A safe space at home

Most parents with an autistic child will be told about the importance of having a safe space at home. It's true, it is very important but don't panic! No one expects you to go building new rooms or adding a whole new wing to your house. You don't have to dedicate a whole room for a safe space. Of course it has its advantages, but there are many ways you can incorporate a safe space on a smaller scale. 

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What is a safe space?

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A safe space is an area which has the strict rule that only the child in question may use it. This means that none of their belongings will get moved while they are away from their space, everything will be predictable when they go to use it and they can relax in knowing that no one will come into their space while they are there. If you are going to use a safe space for your child you must ensure that other members of the household understand the importance of these rules and adhere to them without fail. A safe space that is unpredictable in appearance and does not make the child feel safe when they need down time, is not a safe space at all.

Safe spaces are hugely effective in helping a child to regulate their senses and emotions. Depending on the person's autistic profile, they may need toys and objects to help calm them, or ways of stimulating their brain and senses into working. For more information on sensory profiles click here.

Different kinds of safe space

A safe space can take lots of different forms. It very much depends on the needs of the child, but some ideas for smaller spaces include:

  • A swing chair (closed or open)

  • A hammock

  • A den under a table

  • A parent's bed

  • A tent

  • A corner of a room only for that child

Of course in some cases (particularly when the child has sensitivities to sound) parents may feel that children need more permanent spaces in which they can regulate their senses. If you don't have a spare room, you could consider applying for funding/grants for spaces such as:

 

  • Garden playhouses

  • Purpose built sensory safe spaces

  • Permanent indoor play houses

  • Renovation of spaces such as under the stairs

  • High beds with built in safe spaces underneath

There is no one size fits all approach to designing a safe space. Every autistic person is different and unique. Plenty of adults (including us here at Autability) have our own safe spaces in the form of offices, their own bedroom or garden buildings. In order for the space to a be a success, it must be tailored to the needs of the autistic person.

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