Specializing in sensory solutions for people on the spectrum, Deborah DiMare is a sensory and health-driven design expert, author, educational speaker and global influencer. An accomplished interior designer, she specializes in creating non-toxic, sensory environments designed for optimal mental and physical health for the special needs population.
When designing a space for someone with autism, ADHD or developmental disabilities, Deborah understands that they are more likely to be sensitive to their environments, whether they are children or adults. The design of their spaces should make them feel safe, provide a sense of security, foster independence and provide the appropriate positive stimulation.
Deborah’s design expertise has been featured on television and in national and global publications including the Today Show, NBC, TLC, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Architectural Digest, and many others.Book Your Session with Deborah!
ACOUSTICS ARE IMPORTANT
Individuals on the autism spectrum can be extremely sensitive to sounds. Providing sound insulation and adjusting sound pressure levels is helpful. One way to do this is by adding pink noise: a calming and soothing sound typically used to help people with sleep issues.
SOAK UP THE SOUND
Because sound is a prevalent issue for many with developmental disabilities, absorbing sound plays into the overall acoustics in the room. To help absorb sound in a space, add thick, soft blankets, rugs and oversized pillows, which can also make the space feel cozy. Well-organized bookcases are also great sound buffers when placed against shared walls while helping to minimize clutter.
GOOD LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING
Light and color have a direct affect on our mood, behavior and cognitive functioning. Keep the lighting soft and stay away from fluorescent or glaring lights.
KEEP IT EARTHY AND NEUTRAL
Choosing the right color and intensity is important when creating a positive environment. Research has found that several components of the eye are changed in those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) due to neural deficiencies and/or chemical imbalances, and almost 85% of the ASD population see colors with greater intensity. Keeping the colors muted can quiet the mind and create calm.
CONSIDER THE LAYOUT
Spaces that are orderly and defined are easier and more inviting for the autistic mind to process. Minimal furniture, storage for non-essential items, objects and furniture that can also be reconfigured and function as dividers are ideal for maintaining focus.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Furniture has the potential to influence the function, privacy and size of a space. For ASD, modular furniture and malleable spaces are preferable. Look for easy to clean finishes, as many people with ASD are compulsive about cleanliness.
KEEP IT ZEN
Cover hardwood floors with natural organic cotton rugs and use fabrics with soothing textures. Stay away from patterns and high contrasts as they tend to be distracting.