5 Ways to Create a Supportive Home Environment for Adults with IDD

The word home takes on many different meanings depending on the person you ask, but we can all agree that, at its core, home should be a place that allows you to thrive and be yourself. A supportive home environment for an adult with a developmental disability helps nurture their sense of belonging and well-being. 

Home is also a place to learn, play, express emotions, and interact with family members, caregivers, and peers. Therefore a supportive home environment plays a critical role in the development of a person’s physical, emotional, and mental health. 

As a parent or caregiver, you strive to incorporate elements into the home that enhances the quality of life for your loved one with IDD. LSA has provided exceptional homes for adults with developmental disabilities for over 20 years. Through those years we’ve collected a wealth of knowledge on the ingredients that have helped our residents lead a quality life in the home setting. 

In this blog, we’ll break down the five strategies we use to help enhance a supportive home environment that you can also use in your home. 

Assess Individual Needs

Step one is the foundational element to creating a supportive home environment and that is assessing your loved one’s needs and goals. Adults with developmental disabilities have their own unique needs and therefore a person-centered planning approach can be paramount to ensuring the relevant tools and resources are provided. 

Take a look at your adult child’s needs, strengths, and challenges. 

By looking at these thoroughly you can tailor your support to help them grow their life skills and elevate their well-being. To gather more input based on each category, consider collaborating with professionals. Seek doctors, therapists, and educators that specialize in working with adults with developmental disabilities and who can help further assess and identify areas of development within the cognitive, emotional, and physical areas. 

Sensory Accommodations 

The next category to consider when creating a supportive home environment is sensory accommodation. A world designed for neurotypical people can make it challenging for adults with developmental disabilities that are sensory avoiders. Many environments can be loud, distracting, and crowded which can be overwhelming and lead to intense emotions of stress. On the other hand, some adults with developmental disabilities may be sensory seeking. These individuals seek greater sensory stimulation. 

There are other cases where the individual may experience both types of sensory processing issues and their ability to self-regulate can influence their reaction. No matter the case, it is vital that the home be a place where they feel comfortable and safe. 

See our tips below when deciding on sensory accommodations based on specific stimuli.

  1. See
  • Incorporate natural, dimmable lighting 
  • Reduce glare on household objects
  • Switch up the home color palette to muted shades. Bright colors like red on walls and furniture often appear with more intensity
  • Reduce clutter 
  • Have an organizational strategy in place to support seamless routines
  • Consider an open space 
  1. Hear
  • Eliminate the buzz from lighting which can be attributed to fluorescent lighting
  • Use quality carpet pads
  • Thicker windows to reduce outside noise
  1. Touch 
  • If possible, remove any textures in the home that may be overstimulating
  • Concrete around the outside of the home instead of grass for those who are sensory avoidant
  • Comfortable seating 
  • Safety features like a Non-slip surface to the bathroom tub and grab bars
  1. Taste 
  • Flavored foods that are spicy, minty, bitter 
  • Textured foods 
  1. Smell 
  • Invest in HEPA filters to neutralize odors and filter allergens 
  • Use unscented cleaning supplies and laundry detergent when possible
  • Improve ventilation in the bathroom by leaving the window open for fresh air 


Accessibility plays an important role in helping adults with developmental disabilities meet all aspects of daily living. An accessible home allows those with functional impairments to enhance their autonomy and improve their health. 

After LSA purchases a home, heavy thought is put into the design of the interior and exterior to ensure that everyone is able to navigate their way around. 

Read our blog for more information on how we create accessibility in our homes. 


Good communication is key to being able to assess the needs and emotions of adults with developmental disabilities. Base your communication method based on individual responses. Some individuals may best understand you by seeing gestures, and demonstrations. Other’s prefer simple direct sentences and exact instructions. 

Clear communication within LSA homes has fueled self-determination for residents. Along with understanding an individual’s verbal and physical cues, it is instrumental to support decision-making. LSA prioritizes choice for resident and program participants which in turn has nurtured healthy dynamics between staff and peers. Prioritizing communication has helped create an inclusive and supportive environment in our homes and residents are thriving. 

  • Involve them in decision-making 
  • Supporting an individual’s self-determination starts with letting go of control. Language is an important part of this. We’ve found that residents are more responsive when we ask them what they’d like to do instead of demanding that they do something. Try using questions that are autonomy based during daily dialogues. 
  • Start off with small daily life decisions like what they’d like for breakfast. Continue with similar small daily decisions and then shift over to more challenging scenarios once confidence seems to grow.
  • Interact with community members 
  • Explore alternative communication methods, such as sign language or AAC, if needed, to enhance their ability to communicate effectively.

Promoting Independence 

All the categories we discussed above lead to the idea that is creating a supportive environment by promoting independence. Many individuals with developmental disabilities seek to nurture a life where they work, have social relationships outside the family, recreate, and travel. Building confidence and independence in these areas often start within the home. 

There are many opportunities within the household to encourage independence. 

Here are just some ways we help strengthen independence with LSA residents:

  • Celebrate small wins 
  • Provide volunteering opportunities 
  • Build a support network 
  • Utilize devices like the IPAD to grow technological skill 
  • Finding a fulfilling career that meets their skill set or passions 


Endeavor Foundation 

National League for Nursing

Right for Education 

Sensory-Friendly Homes: Beyond Autism

Sensory-Friendly Home Modifications for Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder