Shedding Some Light: Design Your Home With Autism In Mind

Light sensitivity affects many people on the autism spectrum. If your child is affected by lighting, you can make your home a place of safety for them by making some key design choices when buying, renovating, or building. Your electrical contractor can install lights and specialized windows to help make the environment as friendly to your child's disability as possible.

Light Sensitivity

Most individuals with autism who struggle with lighting are usually more sensitive to energy efficient or fluorescent lights. This can be a problem because public and commercial buildings use this kind of lighting to cut costs. It should not be used in your home, despite the opportunity for savings. Fluorescent lights are harder for autistic individuals because some instances of the condition lead to increased sensory awareness. Lighting can therefore cause discomfort, headaches, or even behavior problems and loss of control over some motor functions.

Home Design Solutions

Talk to your electrical contractor about your lighting needs. Some autistic children need lighting that promotes a calm space for them to feel safe in. Your contractor should be able to install lights on dimmer switches. This way, you can control the amount of light in the room. If your child finds a lot of light distracting, this can be very helpful for productivity and focus.

Another solution is to install lights on the walls and under the cabinets. One central light may not be as effective as several small lights around the room. The more uniform the lighting in the room, the less likely it is to irritate sensory awareness. Also, have your contractor replace any and all fluorescent light fixtures that use tubes, including those in the kitchen, basement, and bathroom, with more traditional fixtures with light bulb sockets. 

Smart Windows

Natural light can often be just as problematic as fluorescent bulbs. Some researchers believe that any light that creates a high contrast and glare can cause adverse reactions in people with autism. One boy collapsed when he was overly stimulated by a beam of direct sunlight in the classroom. Conclusively, bright daylight against dark shadows can trigger distractions and sensory problems.

In order to reap the benefits of having large windows for light and view, while still remaining sensitive to your child's needs, your electrical contractor can install and wire smart windows. Smart windows work like a natural light dimmer switch. They filter the natural light, and can even be made to go completely dark without the need for drapes. They are filled with a liquid substance called a suspended particle device. This liquid is clear until an electrical current runs through it. Then, the particles change position so that they darken the window. You can control how much light enters the room by changing the strength of the electrical current.

With smart windows, you can still enjoy the health benefits of natural light, but if your child is having having trouble with concentration or brightness, you have a back-up plan. 

Other Considerations

To make your home a more friendly environment for your child, consider:

  • choosing incandescent light bulbs with low wattage.
  • letting your child choose lighting fixtures for their play space and bedroom. Certain colors may appeal to your child, and having colored fixtures, like a green glass wall sconce, may be helpful. Similarly, your child will naturally avoid decor lighting that they are repelled by. 
  • letting your child control the lighting when they are home. Having light in the home should not be a fight. If the brightest or dimmest setting works the best for them, then that preference should be respected.

 With the help of some electrical innovations and specialized designs, you can help reduce behavioral problems, melt downs, and troubles with concentration associated with autism. Talk to an electrical contractor in your area, from a company like All American Air & Electric, Inc., about making the needed changes of lighting and windows in your home. 

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