A beautiful little girl with a cheeky smile who has autism.
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There are 700,000 autistic people in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people. Therefore, it is really important to broaden awareness and share knowledge on how to create a good environment for those who have autism. 
In this article, Rachel Clinkard from Charles Clinkard shares a few tips for creating comforting environments for autistic children. 
The right environment can help a child with autism navigate overwhelming situations, such as appointments with unfamiliar people or in new locations. This means that by creating a safe space, you can offer a sense of control when the world feels chaotic. 
The goal is to provide a zone where an autistic child feels understood, supported, and where their sensory needs are not just considered but integrated into the environment. This safe space becomes a refuge allowing them to decompress, self-regulate, and thrive in a world that might otherwise overwhelm them. 
For example, Charles Clinkard's shoe fittings for autistic children involve patience, individualised attention, and a recognition of the sensory needs of each child, which may even help your visitor feel more confident at other appointments too. 
To help you create a more comforting space for autistic children, here are a few ideas you can try. 
How to create a safe space for autistic children 
Overall, a safe space should be tailored to meet the specific requirements of the autistic individual and cater to their sensory needs. Sensory sensitivities vary among autistic individuals, but common considerations often include noise control, lighting, comfortable textures, familiarity, and routine. 
Sound can be overwhelming for some autistic children. Creating a space with controlled noise levels, perhaps through sound-absorbing materials or the use of white noise machines, can be immensely beneficial. In a shoe shop, this involves turning off the music and only allowing a limited number of people into the store. Choosing soft, comfortable, and non-irritating materials for furniture and decor can enhance the overall comfort of the space. 
Natural or soft lighting can create a calming atmosphere while avoiding fluorescent or harsh lighting that might cause discomfort. Dimming the lights during appointments with autistic children is one way you can achieve this, as well as closing any blinds or curtains if the sun is too bright. 
Allowing the child to have a say in how the space is designed can instil a sense of ownership and comfort. This might involve incorporating their favourite colours, patterns, or objects. If your space can’t be customised, you could hand out sensory packs to autistic children that include earplugs or headphones, sunglasses, sensory toys, and any other comforting objects an autistic child may appreciate. Having a special knock or greeting to use when they arrive can also help a child feel in control of the situation if they get to create it themselves. 
Autistic children often find solace in predictability. Creating a space that maintains a consistent layout and routine can be incredibly comforting, as can ensuring they meet with the same people each time they visit. If they are visiting you for the first time, it can help to take a video of your store or studio space so they can familiarise themselves with the layout before they arrive. 
The tips in this guide can help you understand the needs of autistic children and think about ways you can support and make them feel at ease when they come to see you.  
If you have any additional tips that you would like to share with us, please leave a comment below.  
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