Autism Design: Play Space with Long Shelves

Children with Autism are notorious for wanting to line things up. I often see Occupational Therapists working with the child to interrupt this behavior and do something more creative with the items. I can understand that as a way to stretch them to think and behave differently but I think it is important to balance the time we push them and the time we let them do something that makes them feel good.

Creating a play space in your home that appeals to their desire to line things up can be calming for them. Find a long plate rail or buy some wood to make a simple shelf and place it low to the ground. This way they can comfortably play with a set up and not have to take it down when cleaning up.

I found that it is very important to keep this balance. I look at the fact my daughter likes to line things up as a strength not a weakness. I also stretch her and challenge her to try it a different way. But not every time. Sometimes she just needs to play her way and that is okay. It helps calm her.

It is also important to think about where you can place the shelf. Their bedroom can be an obvious place but think about other areas in your home. When my daughter was young, she didn’t like people coming to our house. She would often run and hide somewhere. Try placing a long shelf close to the floor in your living room or family room. When you have guests over, get out a new or special item that they would find comforting to line up or organize. Now you are creating a new coping strategy for them to get through the visit from a guest other than running off to their room alone.

You can also place one outside near a patio or add something to your deck.

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