Avoid potentially painful furniture

Recommendation 119
Furniture, cabinets and the like without (sharp) projections or corners and not made of metal. Plenty of space. No rough touchable wall surfaces

Chapter (theme)
Interior design (touch and pain)

Because of
Deviating pain sensitivity, proprioceptive and vestibular problems, Central coherence (spatial orientation)

In order to
avoid painful collisions with furniture etc. and to promote safety.

Elaboration
The theme which accompanies this recommendation explains the deviating pain experience many on the spectrum have. They may be over- or (more often) under-sensitive to pain. That is a reason to apply the general principle ‘cases in which people with autism have inadequate responses to an element in the environment which they cannot correct, call for changes in the environment’. In this case the indoor environment has to be adapted in a way that the risk of painful incidents is minimized.

In addition to deviating pain experiences, children on the spectrum also have one or more characteristics which increase the risk of getting hurt. ‘Motor’ or ‘bodily awkwardness’ because of proprioceptive and or vestibular problems reminds one a bit of drunkenness: not being able to stay on a straight line, or to touch one’s nose with eyes closed. One walks more often into furniture, doors and other obstacles. Moreover, spatial orientation can also be a problem, probably due to diminished Central coherence.

Apart from spaces in which the autstic family member cannot or is not allowed to come, furniture, cabinets and the like better not have (sharp) projections. Roughly plastered wall surfaces against which one could fall should also be avoided. Here are extra arguments for generous space standards: more space between and around furniture, which should be robust as well.

Daan (19), a patient of the Kannerhouse says for instance:
“Couches with soft armrests: autistics tend to be rude, so are bothered by one’s ‘electrical bones’ on hard armrests. And soft armrests are relaxing too.”

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Kannerhouse

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