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5 Tips: Designing a bedroom for a special needs child

Jessica Ackerman, designer and staff writer for, is quick to share her expansive knowledge of wall decor and designs.

Personal and practical space

If you are designing a bedroom for a special needs child, you must take their physical needs into consideration, but it's important not to lose sight of the fact that all children enjoy a fun bedroom. By combining some features that will address their special needs, as well as some features that are pure fun, your special needs child will have a practical dream bedroom that he will love.

Personal and practical space

Wheelchair Needs

If the child's bedroom has to accommodate a wheelchair, make sure that the entrance to the bedroom does not have an awkward transition from the hallway flooring surface to the bedroom. You will also want to avoid any tight corners that will be difficult to navigate and keep walkways free from obstructions. Tile or hardwood floors are also a better choice than carpeting.

Storage Needs

Everything in the bedroom should be easily accessible for the child, so that they can do things themselves whenever possible. Eliminate dressers with drawers, and instead use colorful stacked bins or crates that have easy access openings. Removing the closet door can also be a big help, and the closet rod should be lowered so that it is accessible. If you use furniture with drawers, make sure the drawer pulls are easy to grasp. Short bookcases with long vertical shelves are a better choice than tall bookcases.

Medical Needs

If a child commonly receives medical treatments or physical therapy in his bedroom, you will want to make this as simple for him as possible. Arrange the furniture in the room in a way that will eliminate the need to move things around when it's time for the treatments. This can help make these treatments and therapies seem more natural, and they will be less stressful for both your child and you. If your child enjoys having certain toys with her during her treatments, make sure these are easily accessible.

Work and Play Space

Make sure you provide adequate and easy-to-access work and play space in the bedroom. This will depend on the child's specific needs, but if it's easier for him to play on the floor, make sure he has a comfortable carpet and perhaps a small desk surface that he can use directly on the floor. If instead it's easier for him to access surfaces that are at table height, provide a large play surface at just this level, with perhaps Velcro along the edges of the surface to which you can attach the toys and supplies. This can eliminate the need for the child to retrieve dropped items.

Involve Your Child in the Design and Decorating Process

Don't forget to keep the child involved in the overall design and decorating process. Just like with any child, a special needs child will consider her bedroom to be an extension of her own personality, and she will want some input as to what she likes and doesn't like. Let her help choose paint colors and decorating themes, and listen to her input as to what would make the room more appealing to her.

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