Considering and meeting the sensory needs of autistic people in housing
This project was commissioned in 2020 from NDTI by the Care and Health Improvement programme and co-produced with a group of people with lived experience.
Visual stimulation can be a source of comfort and joy and can also lead to sensory overwhelm. The good news about this is that there is a solution – or rather, a range of solutions.
Our sight impacts our ability to process, interact and communicate with the world around us. Visual input is a key consideration for most of the people who contributed to Considering and meeting the sensory needs of autistic people in housing – it was one of the most dominant senses. Visual stimulation can be a source of comfort and joy and can also lead to sensory overwhelm. The good news about this is that there is a solution – or rather, a range of solutions.
Fluorescent lighting (flickers)
Tungsten (halogen, incandescent) or LED
Dimmable lighting (flickers)
Direct lighting (uncovered bulbs)
Diffuse – using a shade or use lamps as an alternative source
No natural light
Getting the lighting right where there is no natural light is important. This space should have limited use
Windows obstructed (eg covered in non-transparent film)
Uncover windows where possible – even partial visibility helps
No covering for windows, or transparent curtains
Blackout blinds or curtains that can be fully controlled, particularly in bedrooms. These can be fitted within the window or press studs or Velcro fastenings could be considered if needed.
Significant light changes between rooms or areas.
Consider additional blinds, lighting or windows within doors to reduce the change in lighting levels
Strong shadows, moving shadows (eg from trees)
Additional lighting sources or diffused light can reduce shadows
Reflective surfaces eg flooring or walls
Consider a matt finish
Limited visibility between spaces
Increased visibility between spaces can ease transitions – transparent panels in doors
Swap for neutral, natural and pastel colours
Bright posters, murals and wall designs
Limit this in small spaces and entrances. Involve people in choosing the detail of design if desired
Patterns on floors, carpets and soft furnishings
Plain materials in neutral colours
Posters, postcards and inspirational quotes
Limit use of these unless the person indicates the prefer a busy visual environment; ensure wording is accurate if interpreted literally
Store items in cupboards, clear surfaces, limit the amount of furniture in each room.