Home environments matter a lot for families with members on the Autism Spectrum

Children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) need home environments that are safe and that promote healthy living. Each person’s needs are unique, so each home should be unique.  ASD is a disability that affects people of all ages. The main areas of deficits are in language skills, social interaction, and sensory processing. Most people have impairments in daily activities in the home environment, and safety is a key issue for both children and adults.

Thoughtful environmental design can make care-giving easier, while also promoting healthy development and independence. Planning living spaces for families with members who have autism is a balancing act between many factors.

There a 4 key areas to balance:

Safety vs. freedom- Safety needs to come first!  People with ASD often engage in dangerous and unexpected behaviors. Creating a safe environment is a necessity. After safety is established, then a person can have freedom within those safe areas of the home.

Too much vs. too little sensory- Everyone needs a variety of sensory experiences every day for healthy living. People with ASD often experience sensory stimulation differently. Sometimes normal sensations are aversive. Other times, a person may crave intense sensation.

Considering the whole family- People with ASD are members of families. Common spaces should be made for everyone to enjoy, but it is also important to create places of respite and safety for care-givers and siblings.

Immediate vs. long-term needs- Often long-term needs get forgotten in the urgency of immediate struggles. It is always a good idea to step back and imagine how things may look in a year or even 10 years. ASD is a life-long disability, so long-term planning is needed.

Needs more in-depth information and ideas?

Access our 7 page pdf with more ideas and recommendations specific to designing home areas for families with members who has ASD. Learn how to balance the complex needs now and in the future. The packet includes a worksheet you can use as home-owners or as building professionals to guide your decision making process.


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Need a place to start?

Here are 99 ideas to make homes easier, safer, and more enjoyable:

  • We surveyed parents of children with ASD about what modification they have done in their own homes.
  • This handout is free to share!
  • Have additional ideas? Comment below on this post or email us at beyondaccessibility@paigehays.net to contribute-  When we reach 25 new ideas, this handout will get updated and shared again.

Want the detail on these 99 ideas, check out the free pdf handout below:

Click image for full graphic, or view printable pdf here: 99 Home Modification Ideas for ASD.

Other great resources to view related to this topic:

Consumer Factsheet about Designing Home Environments for People with Aggressive or Self-injurious Behaviors from The Home Modification Clearinghouse Project (University of Sydney).

Looking for more information, visit FAQ page for more info on home modifications.