Sometimes it is hard to explain how life is different in an SEN home. All homes change when you add kids, but many of those ‘temporary’ changes can go on for much longer in an SEN household.
Most SEN families will have some adaptions to their home or items you are unlikely to find elsewhere. At the moment for us the main differences are visual or communication aids along with safety supports. So for anyone who wants a nosy here are some things you can find in my house.
My boys both have communication challenges and visual aids are a huge part of our life. Above is a our bathroom with pictures to help the kids with tooth brushing and hand washing. My eldest has to follow the routine exactly every time.
Below is our daily schedule (whilst home learning due to the lock-down). A picture to help remind my son of signs we are using and my social stories and visual books wall. This is filled with pictures and books to help explain things like going to the dentist or hairdresser.
Keeping the kids safe
Whilst most homes with young kids have stair gates my boys are now 6 & 4 and we still need them. The boys have very little danger awareness and I am terrified of them being hit by a car or falling out a window. Most kids learn over time to stop when you get to a road and not jump out of windows but this can take much longer for some SEN kids.
I need a stair gate downstairs to stop them getting out the house if the door is open (we live on a busy road). We also have window locks on every window upstairs and downstairs. I have two locked rooms in the house where anything dangerous or chemical is kept.
Annoyingly my hallway also has my son’s school car seat for the transport living in it, which means I regularly trip over it.
It took me a while to really see how important sensory supports are from the trampoline taking over the garden to the small sensory supports dotted around the house. Having access to sensory stimulating items is really important to many autistic children so my house is full of them. Even our kitchen ceiling which is covered in sticky stretch men my boy regularly needs to throw up there!
My 6 year old uses the Picture Exchange Communication System. I need at least one but usually several cards for every word he needs to use so we have hundreds. I have had to set up several shelves in the living room to home all the pictures in little boxes so they are easy to find at a moments notice. Along with the boys communication books that travel around the house with them.
The frustrating bits
The two things that I wish we didn’t have are tons of nappies / wipes and a mountain of paperwork. Both boys are still in nappies, I never expected to have kids in nappies when they start school but this is where we are. As kids get bigger so do the nappies and the space they take up!
Paperwork is without a doubt the most frustrating thing in my house, The folders in the picture below are all filled with paperwork I need to keep and reference regularly for both my boys. From DLA forms to EHCPS and tons of assessment reports. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in letters and reports about the kids. I get that it is important but I have enough to manage supporting my kids as a parent without becoming an admin assistant for them at the same time.
Finally I will leave you with my eldest’s special interest LEGO, we have tons and as it needs to stay in the exact sets we have several cupboards full of LEGO!
What is in your home that might be a little different?