Private rooms/spaces at home
Preferably two private rooms: a bedroom and a hobby-room
If not: distinguish functions in an L-shaped room
Mark functions with the help of a rug or a tape
Do not have a sibling (or another child) share the room
architectural spaces (zoning)
In order to
escape temporarily from the stress of living together. Possibility of concentration on specific activities without disturbance from others.
Zoning aims primarily at prevention of sensory overload and concentration problems. The idea is to earmark areas in the house for specific activities which can be pursued without disturbance. Sharing rooms with siblings may be at odds with this. Zoning is not only intended to separate or distinguish between functions of spaces but also to separate high stimulus areas from low stimulus areas. [See Mostafa, Magda, ‘An Architecture for Autism: Concepts of design intervention for the autistic user’, In: Archnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research 2(2008) 1 (March) 189-211.] Secondly zoning also addresses a need for a clear physical and visual structure. Such needs arise primarily out of Weak Central Coherence and an inability for Cognitive Shifting.
In many contexts, and certainly at home, the need for a private space in which an autistic person can withdraw, varies between very desirable to absolutely necessary. First a private room is preferably situated in a part of the house with a minimum of disturbing stimuli. Two rooms: one bedroom and one hobby-space is to be preferred. (If, for example, the hobby is making loud music, then, of course, a high-stimulus zone is reasonable.) For younger children, two rooms have the advantage they don’t have to disassemble their constructions, tents, jigsaws and the like every night. Such flexibility can be beyond the autistic person’s ability.
Although generous space is preferred, two rooms are often impossible. Inside a private room zoning should be considered as well. An L-shaped room would work well because it would limit visual stimuli. A simple and affordable way of marking usage functions is with the aid of a rug or tape: ‘here you play, there you sleep and here you do your homework’. Cupboards can also be put to use in marking spaces; a desk or table, used for homework can be placed in a secluded corner.