5 Furniture Hacks for Autistic Kids
If your child is on the autism spectrum, you might find yourself on a spectrum as well: either buying the least expensive furniture that you can find because you know it won’t last or buying the toughest furniture you can find, with the hopes that it will last as long as possible. Wherever you might fall, I’ve got five furniture hacks for your special needs kids. Keep these hacks in mind when you’re going out to buy furniture for your autistic child.
Kids who have autism need special furniture because these kids might stim dramatically, tantrum violently or have sensory needs that might be addressed with particular furniture. Here are five points to consider whether you have just received your child’s diagnosis or if your child has gotten hurt a few too many times and you’re ready to do some shopping.
1. Make sure that your furniture is heavy and cannot be pulled over.
Furniture, especially if it’s full of books or has a television on it is incredibly dangerous if it’s pulled over, whether your child has autism or not. Buy furniture that is heavy and sturdy, and fasten what you can to the wall. This isn’t too difficult to do; you can use L-brackets for most pieces. Especial Needs has a great selection of furniture for kids with special needs.
2. Keep a nice, open space accessible.
This is especially useful for when your special needs child tantrums, an occasion that surely will happen. This should be a space where the child can tantrum without hurting himself on something or breaking something. Don’t worry if you don’t have a huge home, the space should be as large as you can make it. I don’t think it’s a good idea to intervene in most tantrums unless the child is going to hurt someone or himself, so give him a nice space to scream and vent his frustrations.
3. Have a child-sized work station available for your child.
A child-sized chair and table can do wonders for your child’s self-esteem. Whether or not you are homeschooling, it may help to have a small chalkboard, a small easel and other art and learning supplies. A small trampoline is a wonder for active children. These tools can also help with sensory integration, which many autism spectrum kids need to focus on.
4. Install child-proof latches on drawers and cabinets.
Also, cover electrical outlets, use indoor gates, lock windows and protect your child from getting hurt or any sharp corners your furniture may have. Special needs kids often don’t even realize what they are doing is dangerous and potentially fatal. “What, I shouldn’t put this fork into the outlet?” Avoid mishaps by covering dangerous outlets properly. Tables and bureaus with sharp edges can be either sanded down or covered with a nice fabric.
5. Have a quiet, comfortable space available for your child.
This is different than the open tantrum space. This is a place where your child can take a break and look at a book, stretch, or just sit down and be quiet for a while. Everyone can benefit from such a space, especially children who have special needs.
A few extras to consider:
For the bedroom:
Consider skipping a headboard and painting one on the wall instead.
Avoid glass mirrors, depending on the level of your child. You can buy an acrylic one, instead.
For the kitchen:
Place knives and other sharp objects out of reach of your kids.
For the bathroom:
For the playroom:
Have some fun, safe places for your children to climb. Avoid hooks and knobs in places where they shouldn’t be climbing. Protective mats and padding are great for active children who might accidentally hurt themselves.
Rocking chairs are great for sensory input.
You can find more great products at National Autism Resources.
So what about you? What does your home look like? Or are you a teacher setting up an autistic classroom? What special things have you done to set it up?