Designing Simone’s Room

by Angela aka Farmer Jane on January 18, 2013 · 7 comments

It turns out I have a designer cold that has a relentless creative streak. My cold is almost gone, more of my energy is returning, and I’m fighting (hopefully winning!) the battle of the cough.

During my down time with my constant little companion at my side, I’ve had time to reflect on what might suit this very sweet yet extremely destructive little girl.

Simmi isn’t just good and ripping things apart, she’s the master of turning whatever is in her wake into a shredded hot mess.

You name it, this girl can destroy it. Give her a little time alone in my room, and she’ll magic marker up furniture, find ways to mash food into my blankets, crumb up my bed, put a whole roll of toilet paper in the toilet, but first ripping toilet paper one sheet at a time. Yes, meticulous dedication comes to mind when I reflect on her ability to clog the toilet.

Her bedroom? Well, lets just say it’s a hot mess and she LOVES it that way. If we clean her room, it takes less than 20 minutes for it to be back to hurricane aftermath status. The walls are brightly colored with colored pencils, magic markers, crayons and really anything she can get her hands on to draw her magical world.

Her furniture? Ha! What furniture? We used to have a dresser and crib in her room, then we moved her to her own mattress on the floor. There was no way I’d put a regular bed in her room. She would be scaling the dresser and bed in no time, setting off on some fantastic adventure to save a small animal in the jungle. As it is, we needed to remove the high wall shelves we put on her walls because somehow she kept scaling them. Yes she was able to get things on the top shelves that I have problems reaching. To this day we can’t figure out how she would get things down off the shelves. She is Baby MacGyver living and breathing down the hall.

Her dresser is nothing more than a platform for her to jump from. We had to take all the drawers out because when I’d go in to get her in the morning, there she’d be sitting in the fully extended top drawer, singing her heart out. I don’t know why she loved sitting the drawers so much, but it was an accident waiting to happen! We removed the drawers, and she decided to climb into the area where the drawers rest…yes, she got stuck in there and I almost had to break the wood to get her out.

We started designing her room about a year ago, and I stopped because as she changes and grows, her needs have also changed. Her skills in destroying things have also grown with time.

Every time I go into her room I get a little depressed. She’s not, but I am! I loath her room and it makes my skin crawl to think that my little girl sleeps in there. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? She is so proud of her bedroom that if new guests come over, she is the first to greet them and then proceeds to give them a tour of her house of horrors…ahem, I mean boudoir. Really, she just adores all the hard work she’s done to her walls, and is sure to show everyone the HUGE pile of junkie half broken toys and ripped paper all over the floor. If you’re a guest in our home, she would expect you to play with her in her room before you do anything else while visiting us.

Ripping and destroying things has little to do with malice on her part. As a matter of fact, she has never destroyed anything out of anger or hate. Her issues have to do with sensory cravings. She loves the sound and feeling of ripping paper. She has a love for taking things apart to see how they work. Simone even loves any kind of anatomy book showing how things operate on the inside.

We have to lock her into her room at night because she doesn’t sleep at night. She’ll go to sleep for a short while, then wake up and play in the dark until the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes she’ll go back to sleep, but mostly she’s up! If we didn’t lock her room, she could very easily get into the kitchen cabinets and eat food that could kill her. She’s incredibly sneaky and quiet when she wants to be and our greatest fear is her trying to eat what we eat. The next biggest fear is her leaving the house. There’s security bars on her window for a reason!

Anyway, knowing that we can’t let her out of her room at night and also that she can’t have regular furniture, we came up with a solution and some ideas (thanks to some great suggestions from friends) for ways to recreate her bedroom, making it Simone friendly.

Here are some inspirational ideas I grabbed from pinterest:

 

We’ll be creating a sleeping nook for Simmi. The sleeping nook will be made from her walk-in closet. Dom has already built the platform which the bed will sit on. The front of the closet and the surrounding exterior closet wall will be transformed to look like a nook entrance with pocket paneling instead of a closet…similar to the above photo.

The closet fits a twin mattress perfectly with some room around each side to change sheets. On the interior nook walls at the entrance, I’ll install custom curtains so she can pull the curtains opened or closed. She LOVES opening and closing curtains.

The next solution to another potential problem we have with Simmi being a sensory seeker, is her ability to throw herself at things. It could be a wall, a person, free fall off of furniture. Yes, she will think nothing of coming at you full speed and head butt you in the hip, just to see how it feels on her head. She’ll thrust herself against the walls giving new meaning to “bouncing off the walls.”
In her new sleeping nook, we’ll add very light pink or other light colored satin thick tufted wall panels to the sides of three of the walls. The tufting will travel up about 3 1/2 feet from the edge of the mattress, providing padded walls for comfort. Only a thin wall will separate her from Noah’s room, and tufting the walls will help sound proof it a bit, so as not to wake Noah up at night with Simmi’s playing. I decided to go with removable tufted panels because I can add new layers of fabric over time if she mucks it up or decides to write on it, giving the panels a fresh new look.

Above the tufting I’ll be stenciling a wallpaper design onto the walls.

I’m also considering making organizing pockets that have button holes to attach to the tufting at the foot of her bed. She will be able to put her favorite books, toys, and other precious treasures in these pockets.

Source: kokokokids.ru via Lori on Pinterest

Of course no sleeping nook would be complete without a pillow menagerie of her favorite animals! Letters, numbers, shapes, and different textured pillows will also add dimension to her nook…not to mention so fun.  :)

That’s just the designs I have in mind for the nook. Her room is about 12′x14′ and will be completely empty once the nook is complete. It’s a big room to work with. I would love for her to have a sweet little table and chairs, but knowing her, she’ll pile all the chairs on top of the table (and each other) and attempt to sit on the top near the ceiling. The only solution would be a kid’s picnic table where the bench is connected to the table, and the table is bolted to the wall!

What? Did you think we’d plan to do something simple like a rectangle table? LOL No, I like to complicate the hell out of my designs. Besides, it isn’t often that you see a cool table like this! I think we can make one pretty easily.

Another feature I’m thinking of including is a china cabinet in her room anchored to one of the walls. I would paint it some sort of gorgeous light pink color, change the hardware, remove the glass and replace it with chicken wire and then add lots of different LOCKS so she can’t get into the cabinet. It would be the place we store her clothes, art supplies, books with actual pages, and other valuable things we don’t want torn up. Here’s a photo of the possible finished product:

For her walls, we’ve decided to go with a colorful chalkboard paint. A friend of ours thought it would be perfect for her need to write on the walls. We’re not sure of what color we’d want, but we know it will have to be colorful!

I have more ideas in my mind, but they change from day to day.

We’ll be working on our bedroom first, and after we’re finished, we’ll start on Simmi’s room. There isn’t a rush for us to get it done since she adores her bedroom just as it is. She doesn’t understand that a whole other design is possible, or that I’ve been trying to custom design a room that is just as unique as she is.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Melonie K. January 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm

A suggestion along the lines of the chalkboard paint – maybe one section of the wall could be whiteboard paint? That way she could switch between chalk and erasable markers? We are doing a chalkboard wall in the kitchen here and I have magnetic primer to go behind it. Fun stuff!

Did I ever tell you about Mama K’s play clay? It’s gluten free – not sure if it would work for her due to the other ingredients, but maybe? If she likes to SQUISH stuff it would be very fun and if the ingredients are okay in general for her, if she samples a little bite it’s still safe. (Not that I recommend eating it LOL but with the scents she uses some of them do smell awfully tasty.) They are aromatherapeutic which might be good with her high energy – both my kids love them. Remind me to tell you sometime about our mold issue overseas though. I don’t think it would happen to you – you know how humid it was where we moved from!!! – but I know you need to watch for it. The downside of it being natural instead of chock full of chemicals, I suppose. LOL

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Angela aka Farmer Jane January 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

We try to avoid all markers, even dry erase. She LOVES markers so much she’ll color herself with them. AHAHAHAHAH! But the magnetic chalk board paint I think will be a hit with her.

Another area of the wall I want to install a large piece of felt so I can do felt stories with her. She loves putting animals and people (adding clothes) on a felt board. I also want to install a large wooden box onto the wall that can open (and also lock) to expose mounted musical instruments. I have far too many ideas, and not nearly enough wall space.

I wonder if you can add salt to the play clay to make it a little more mold resistant? I’m thinking of making her some clay from dryer lint and food dyes. My list keeps growing and sometimes I feel like my head is gonna explode.

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Melonie K. January 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Check with Mama K – you probably could. She was very friendly at the MENFair the year I found her & her products, and I’m sure she’d be willing to think it through since you have a medical need for it (not like you’re trying to get her recipe out of her).

Didn’t think of that with the markers. Oops. LOL Makes me think of the time she painted herself though. :D

One of mine used to love felt boards but my hands get so dry I can’t handle touching them. LOL

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kim January 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I would love to hear the reasoning behind locking a special needs child in a room at night for fear she might eat something that would kill her..who watches her when shes awake in her room…couldnt she eat something there that might kill her , like choking on an object or hurting herself if shes so destructive? I find this abusive at best and neglectful even.As a parent of a special needs child I would love to hear the explanation?

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Angela aka Farmer Jane January 18, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Kim,

At least you used your real name!

Since you haven’t bothered to read anything about our family or our child, lets start with the fact that she has LIFE threatening severe food allergies. She is allergic to peanuts, dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, and tree nuts. She has the neurodevelopment of a 2 1/2 year old at the age of 5 1/2 and does not understand that food can kill her. She also has a diagnosed neurological disorder.

You may feel that it is abusive for me to keep her locked in her room at night, but, I will say that “as a parent with a special needs child” as you expressed, you should know better than to shoot off your mouth without ever knowing the story. I can guarantee that you wouldn’t know what it’s like to have a special needs child, if one bit you in the ass.

This is my blog, and if you have a problem with my parenting style, find some other blog to frequent.

On a personal note KIM from NJ who has been stalking my nephew Anthony, you are by far the worst individual I’ve ever come across. As of this moment I have your IP address and I’ll be reporting you. Yes, I have your personal IP address of 69.121.116.140. Do NOT harass us any further, as you have done on facebook. I’m reporting you as soon as I’m done typing this.

And Kim…get a life!

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Meagan January 22, 2013 at 4:54 am

I don’t understand how people assume that perhaps you get some sort of enjoyment out of locking Simmi up at night. It’s obvious from your post that it’s a bit of a painful process making sure you have all your bases covered to ensure her safety. Just because a child is “special needs” doesn’t mean their needs are all identical. I was not special needs growing up and my mother locked me in my room because I’d sneak out of the house or just mess around at night getting into mischief. I’ll tell you, I learned how to entertain myself and be comfortable alone. My creativity evolved more in those short years than it has in my lifetime so far. Anyway, Angela I just want you to know that I think you’re an outstanding mother and caretaker of Simone. I enjoy reading about your everyday challenges and how your family comes together to rise above. :)

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Angela aka Farmer Jane January 22, 2013 at 6:58 am

Thanks Meagan,

It isn’t an easy decision to have to keep her locked in the room at night, but that is reality. There are many children who need that extra security. To do anything less is negligence and puts our child in harms way. Each child has different needs, and when she was younger and could climb out of her crib, we had to remove anything that she could choke on AND go searching through her room for screw drivers and other tools she’d find and hide, since she knew how to dismantle door knobs and electrical socket plates. Sounds funny now, but even though she still has a hard time wielding a pair of scissors, she can use a screw driver like a pro! LOL We didn’t need her electrocuting herself.

Being the sensory seeker that she is, we originally thought we’d need to get her a special needs bed that confines her to her bed. It’s a screened in tent like structure that she couldn’t bang her head or thrust her body against. They were too expensive for us to afford at the time. They make them for children on the Autism spectrum. Our cheap alternative to that dilemma was that we ALMOST purchased a Fisher Price “My First Trampoline” with secure enclosure. The plan was to attach a round feather bed to the bottom. Then, she could jump, lunge, and throw herself at the sides and never hit a wall or the floor. Those cute little trampolines don’t have the same kind of springs around the base, so she’d be completely safe. As we saw some of her sensory needs changing, we realized she doesn’t need to be confined to just her bed, and could be free to roam her room. I give major credit to her being on GAPS for the great strides she’s made.
:)

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