By Amanda Henderson, SafeChildren.info
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If you have an adult child living at home due to his or her autism diagnosis, it is important to utilize strategies for helping them thrive. Whether your child began living with you again recently or has lived with you since childhood, you may still be searching for the right strategies for your individual situation.
No matter where your son or daughter is on the spectrum, there are general tips that you can use to create the best possible home environment.
Prevent exposure to loud noises.
One of the most common symptoms of autism is sound sensitivity. Even in adulthood, this symptom rarely disappears. Everything from loud voices to the pop of a balloon to fireworks can trigger mild anxiety to severe panic attacks. Sounds can also be a major source of distraction, which can make it impossible to focus on even the simplest of tasks.
If your adult child struggles with sensitivity to loud noises, there are steps that you can take to limit or prevent exposure in the home. First, identify some of the more frequent sources of louder noises. Do you have a TV that can get loud when changing between inputs? Is your vehicle extra loud when starting the engine? Being aware of these triggers is a large part of the battle.
Next, when possible, ensure that your son or daughter is in another room when one of these loud sounds is anticipated. Additionally, noise-canceling headphones can also be an excellent solution when certain loud noises are unavoidable (such as 4th of July fireworks).
Take safety measures indoors and outdoors.
If your son or daughter has challenges related to autism that pose safety issues, Psychology Today explains it’s especially important to ensure that your home is as safe a space as it can be. Even if you’ve checked everything over before, now is a good time to revisit some of the most common safety concerns for individuals with autism.
For example, if you have concerns that your adult child may leave your residence, ensure that your yard is fenced in (if possible) and that all fence gate and door locks are secure. Two other significant concerns are sharp objects and hot surfaces. Do everything you can to secure knives and other sharp objects, and protect hot surfaces when in use (and while cooling).
Limit the number of changes you make in your home.
Change of any kind can be jarring for those with autism. Something that you regard as minor may cause substantial distress to your adult child. This goes for everything — including your plans for the day, what you serve for dinner, your routines, and so on.
When it comes to your home, try to limit the number of changes that you make. This includes rearranging furniture and decorative elements, adding new items on a frequent basis, or making any other change that is noticeable. If you need to make a change in your home, it is worthwhile to discuss the change with your son or daughter, especially if you know that this is one of their triggers.
Create safe spaces that are free from the risk of sensory overload.
As Understood.com points out, sensory overload can be a major issue with autism. This can come in the form of sights, sounds, smells, and other senses. Oftentimes, as a parent, you’ll already be aware of your adult child’s sensory issues. If you are aware of their specific triggers, do what you can to create spaces that are free of excess stimuli. This will help them quickly escape sensory overload if it occurs.
With all modifications that you make, strive to create a safe environment that helps your son or daughter feel at ease. Having this goal in mind will help you make the best choices for the long term.