ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC
The name of this company is ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC
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by Richard Acree of ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC

Aging in Place Home Modifications for People Living with Autism


Autism is a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. Creative Housing Solutions and Rowell Brokaw Architects, PC, provide guidance on home modifications for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) + Co-occurring Behaviors. A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) can help with home modifications.

Common characteristics of ASD include sensory and perception problems, organizational problems, communication issues, impaired thinking abilities, elopement, self-injury, aggressive behavior, seizures, anger, water play, incontinence, pacing, seclusion, head banging, hair pulling, biting, eye poking, slapping, climbing fences, lack of safety awareness, opening locks and gates, hiding, leaving home, and wandering away.

According to the CDC, symptoms of children or adults with ASD may include:

  • not pointing at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)

  • not looking at objects when another person points at them

  • having trouble relating to others or not having an interest in other people at all

  • avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone

  • having trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings

  • preferring not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to

  • appearing to be unaware when people talk to them, but responding to other sounds

  • being very interested in people, but not knowing how to talk, play, or relate to them

  • repeating or echoing words or phrases said to them, or repeating words or phrases in place of normal language

  • having trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions

  • not playing “pretend” games (for example, not pretending to “feed” a doll)

  • repeating actions over and over again

  • having trouble adapting when a routine changes

  • having unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound

  • losing skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)

Based on these characteristics and symptoms, the six most common home modifications for a person living with significant ASD are:

1. AUTISM-FRIENDLY HOME: The focus in an Autism-Friendly Home is on reducing risk and anticipating activities. Broken windows, slipping, falls, broken or damaged furniture, special equipment or conveyances, unsafe applications, and nonfunctional hardware are addressed.

2. CONNECTED HOME: This will be a helpful resource if you are challenged by a lack of visibility between rooms, the need to ensure safety, or the need to monitor activities including self injury, seizures, and medical issues.

3. THE ESSENTIAL BATHROOM: These modifcations can help address the most common challenges related to incontinence, toileting issues, water play, keeping clean, fooding, slipping, damage to the bathroom, and falls, bad smells, and poor ventilation.

4. WALKING LOOP: An in-home “loop” designed for pacing and stress relief can also address running, jumping, chasing, avoidance of social interaction, seclusion, and vestibular disorders.

5. PLACES OF CONTROL + LAYERS OF FREEDOM: These examples can help address issues related to voluntary engagement, safe boundaries, fencing, preferred activities, eating disorders, and fears.

6. TOOLS FOR HOUSEKEEPING: A resource to address disorganization, chaos, inappropriate storage, bad smells, soiled furniture, ineffective housekeeping, and caregiver exhaustion.

Each of these home modifications will be discussed more in-depth in later articles.

If someone you know living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, please call Richard at 615-752-0060 to discuss the needs for a home safety inspection and home modification. For more information about the services Richard provides please see Residential Accessibility.

Thank you.