Preferably the needs of the child determine the location of the home
Generally choose according to age on the one hand and expected future on the other; in particular choose according to the child’s individual needs
a broad range of autistic (among which sensory) and ego-limitations
In order to
avoid both over- and under-demanding.
It’s exceptional when the choice for the location of a home is entirely or even mainly determined by the needs of ones’ autistic family member. That’s however no reason not to make recommendations on this point, even though they can often only be very partially followed.
Finding a good balance between demanding too much and not enough, between confrontation and protection, is one of the most central tasks of parents with children on the spectrum – see dilemmas. As discussed in the theme ‘location’, the choice within autism care is very often for as normal as possible – unless compelling reasons to choose otherwise exist.
Every child on the spectrum is different, so parents will take its individual possibilities and limitations into account.
In general, however, age poses specific demands. The younger the child, the more important a quiet, safe, low-stimulus environment becomes. The challenges may be places for cycling, skateboarding and the like and play area’s in the neighborhood. If at all possible, a spacious garden in which to play and to invite other kids (see recommendation 12) is to be recommended. At a young age children experience much stress, as they have much to learn about daily life and dealing with various people and their social roles. Physical activity helps them to release tension.
Teenagers and adolescents need a neighborhood with good public transport, recreational facilities and shops. Challenges outside the home are then more easily found in sideline jobs, shops, restaurants and what have you.
Another general consideration are expectations for the future. If an independent life, more or less like anyone else’s is possible, then one should learn to survive in everyday life and more so – see the preceding paragraph – as one gets older.
Individual characteristics to be taken into account when choosing a location for the family home encompass three broad categories on which people on the spectrum may experience difficulties.
On the one hand it’s possible that no or only minor problems of orientation exist, so clarity of the layout of the living environment isn’t an issue. On the other hand these can be so extreme that only a detached house in the middle of nowhere is a viable option. Evidently, for most this matter lies anywhere between these extremes.
Among the sensory issues noise is generally the biggest problem. Interior noise is more frequent in flats and other apartments which are part of a larger housing complex. Corner apartments are therefore often preferred. Exterior noise depends of course on exterior sound levels but also on sound-isolation efforts. Here too one of the extreme solutions is a detached house with nothing and no one within earshot. In individual cases other senses can also be problematical; one may for instance be extremely sensitive to smells which rule out specific rural or industrial environments.
Social problems, mainly resulting from interaction, and communication problems, evidently occur more in places of bigger population density and where neighbors can less easily be avoided. Demarcation possibilities gain in importance under such conditions; see the related theme.