Visualizations at home

Recommendation 105
Visualizations create order. Things which are stored out of sight need their fixed place and should be findable with the aid of pictures, texts, labels etcetera. Similarly, order can be created in, for instance, the wardrobe. It may also be necessary to name a room or another space and to indicate the route to it.

Chapter (theme)
interior design (visualizations)

In order to
prevent disorientation, confusion and family conflicts.

Because of
Central coherence, Cognitive shifting, Weak powers of imagination, sensory sensitivity, Executive functions (memory)

Elsewhere, it was emphasized that things laying around can cause confusion or even ‘meltdowns’; so, when not in use, they can better be kept out of sight in closets, closed cupboards and the like. (See recommendation 94.) People on the spectrum may have great trouble remembering fixed places and finding their things, due to executive and memory problems.

Visualizations in the shape of pictures, colors, texts, labels etcetera on doors, drawers, crates etc. can help with this type of problem.
The wardrobe is one of the spaces which easily become chaotic.  Usually, it is the first place of entrance to the home and the last space from which it is left.  Finding one’s things upon leaving in haste or getting rid of them upon entering, are hardly conducive to order in the home. Moreover, when several people are busy searching, taking off or putting on shoes and coats and the like within a small space, clutter is often difficult to handle. Additionally, these are shifting-moments and shifting is hard for people on the spectrum under normal circumstances. A well-organized wardrobe has personal coat hooks and for instance crates or drawers for mittens, keys and the mp-3-player. Sometimes this isn’t enough and more separation is needed.  For example, a shared wardrobe would be an abomination to the youngster who commented: “If a wardrobe isn’t really spacious the lice walk over! The best is one’s own peg, next to one’s own room.”

A mother of two young autistic boys, tells this about the use of color:
“In our home color is an important structure. When in doubt, all which is blue is Rudolph’s and all in red belongs to Alfred. Laundry baskets with clean clothes, rucksacks and plastic bags for the school camp, toothbrushes, beakers, and so on. They have chosen their favorite color and need to orient themselves just once and have to remember only once what belongs to whom, instead of figuring this out again and again for every single object. For that reason we also have our own cloth-pegs which are three feet apart. And each one has a basket in our own color where we keep keys, agenda’s, lunch for school, etcetera at the ready. That works out great, because if there’s anything I do not want in the morning, its two kids who have to wait for one another to get their stuff or who get into a fight about which is whose. After all had gotten used to this system it wasn’t them but my husband and I who had to be corrected most often.”

Another mother of autistic twins, who is also an autism coach, recommends:
“Give every space its own function and an agreed upon name, which may be visualized. Do the same thing with corners of the rooms, cabinets, drawers etc.. Then, when you refer someone to the cutlery-drawer in the china cabinet in the dinner area of the living room you get an order from micro to macro, so everything has its own logical place. Then the hobby glue can be at no other place than on the craft shelf in the materials cabinet in the craft room and one only has to search one shelf.”

One should, however, never forget how literal words can be taken by people on the spectrum: the mother of the twins related the following correction to her advice: “It’s better to choose the order macro→meso→micro. My son immediately goes to the stairs when I tell him the cup is up in the kitchen cupboard.”