A place of retreat…

I am going to touch on a topic I have not really gotten into yet, but affects me too, and that is Autism.  I will be writing more articles in the future based on my own experiences in life, and what works for me.  Here’s a topic of something that has always been good for me growing up:

Have you occasionally found your child on the spectrum huddled in the bottom of a closet, under a porch, or inside a cabinet?  Chances are they are just looking for a place to get away for some peace and quiet for a moment.  All persons on the spectrum young and old need a nice comfortable quiet place to relax in for a few moments.  This is especially true in homes with siblings

Setting up a place for your child is not too particularly hard.  Chances are, your child has already picked out a favorite spot to get away from things for a moment, but if they have not, or if they choose places that you would rather them not be, designate a specific place and set it up to your child’s liking.  Like the places I mentioned before, this does not need to be a large place.  It can be a spare closet,  or an unused cabinet.  It does not even need to be within the home either.  A playhouse in the backyard or the shed works well too.  Just keep in mind the location should be climate controlled to make it comfortable.  If your family has a recreational vehicle, this works especially well.  Just plug it into the house and leave it unlocked for the child.

The place should have soft materials within like cushions and pillows so that your child can sit or lay down.  It does not need to be a place for sleeping, and in fact sleeping in the retreat should be discouraged, as the child should be sleeping in their bedroom.  The cushions and soft materials also work well for dampening sounds and other noises from the outside.  Let your child add a few pleasing things to decorate the location with, but it should be kept rather plain to minimize visual distractions.  If the location has windows, they should allow in diffused light, but not direct sunlight.  If your child keeps a diary or journal, this is a great place for them to keep that and write in it.

The location should be void of any visual and audible distractions like noises and bright lights.  If the location you pick does not have lots of noise isolation from the rest of the house, you can also mask noise with appliances, like a fan.  There are also white noise generators that make noises like rolling ocean waves and such available if you choose to go that route. Your child should not have any electronic devices like video games, TV’s, radios, etc in their retreat either, the purpose is for them to get away from these things and the sensory barrage they create.

Discourage other siblings from bothering your child while they are in their retreat, as this may be one of the reasons why they are in there in the first place.  Setting up a place like this is especially important in a home where your child may share a bedroom with other siblings and homes with big families living in small living quarters.   If you have more than one child on the spectrum, set up separate places for each child, as you do not want conflicts over using the space.   Do not use the place as a location of punishment, but if your child is showing signs of getting upset, you should encourage your child to go to their place of retreat to calm down for a little while.

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