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Do you have a dedicated learning space for your child with autism at home?  As a play therapist, I want to stress how helpful this is, to have a space for your child.

The thing I hear over and over again is that parents and caregivers feel overwhelmed. I also hear that they crave connection with their child, engagement and fun. I always suggest getting organized as an antidote to this feeling that life is out of control. The first step towards being more organized, feeling more relaxed and happier, and having more fun at home with your child, is creating a dedicated space for learning at home.

Today, Alix Strickland Frenoy, owner of the Learning House for Special Needs Children, is here to offer suggestions…

A baby sitting on a plush rug with musical instruments.

I created my learning center in a townhouse in Paris so that when the kids come for their adapted class and private sessions, they are coming to a house rather than a clinical setting. Rather than having traditional “therapy rooms”, our kids learn in their very own “progress nooks”. I coach the families that come to my center to create these powerful learning spaces in their homes too.

What is a progress nook for children with autism?

A progress nook is that special space in your home that is adapted to your child’s needs and is a permanent invitation to play and learn in a fun and effective way!

Why does my child need a learning space at home?

Many parts of the home are overwhelming for your child with autism. This is why you need a dedicated learning space for your child. By having a dedicated learning space, you will ensure that you have a spot in your home that is specifically adapted to your child’s needs. Having this special space, will also encourage you to play with your child regularly.

Where should it be?

You can put your dedicated learning space for your child with autism anywhere you like in your home. It is important that you choose a spot that is calm and private. It can be an entire room or a corner of a bedroom or living room. You just want to make sure that you can set it up and leave it set up so that you can keep coming back to it and encouraging fun and learning with your child!

What materials will I need to teach my child with autism in his or her progress nook?

It is very important that you choose the right materials to help your child progress in their new progress nook! You don’t want this area to be overly cluttered, but it is important to make sure that you have everything you need to create a varied and engaging space for your child. You can download this free printable toy checklist to make sure that you’re on the right track. Just check off everything you already have and easily see what you’re missing!

A huge pile of Legos with text above them.

What will your learning space for your child with autism look like?

Your learning space for your child with autism will include a table, chairs and a toy storage system that includes boxes with lids or drawer bins. Each bin should be organized by category and activity. The goal is that your child will be able to take out a bin, do the activity, put it back in the bin and put the bin away. Each bin should have a photo label showing what is inside. These are general guidelines. Don’t worry if your system isn’t perfect!

This is one of our perfectly imperfect progress nooks in my learning center. (Notice the missing labels on the bins. Somehow, those always seem to get away from us!)

A small playroom with shelves and organized containers of toys.

My child goes to school. Do I still need a dedicated learning space at home?

Home is your child’s haven. You can make it the most beautiful and enriching play space. If organized correctly, it can provide so many learning opportunities.

Even if your child has a wonderful school program in place, it is very valuable to have specially adapted home activities in place too. Your child’s progress nook will serve as a relaxing and educational spot. It will be a space that encourages your child’s growth and progress.

This special space will serve to provide appropriate, engaging and fun activities for your child, therefore, increasing learning opportunities and decreasing meltdowns and other difficult behavior. This will make the whole family happier!

Now that you’ve started creating a dedicated learning space for your child at home, make sure that you have the toys and materials you need for learning success with my free printable toy inventory checklist. You’ll be able to check off the toys your child already has and easily see what’s missing from your child’s learning space.

A boy waving his arms with pigeons flying away from him.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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1 Comment

  1. I find it cool that you suggested that a parent should invest in a calm and private area for their autistic children to play in to help them learn and have fun. If I adopt a daughter or a son with this mental illness in the future, I would schedule therapy for them once a week at a local medical clinic. Doing this will help equip them with the necessary mental and psychological skills to help them cope with the environment around them.