Child gates for building confidence

Building confidence in a shared space is much easier with an extra layer of security.

Added on Tuesday 17 November 15

I really struggle with new people. Often i can mask it, but one scenario I can’t mask is new people in my home. Even worse if they are caring for me in anyway.

This is strongest whenever someone new is caring for me. Even if i have spent considerable time with them in the presence of my friends, once i am here alone with them i hide in my room with the door closed.

This is not helpful, this is also not what i want to do. I want to interact with them, but that’s very very hard to do when the anxiety is so high. The overload is getting in the way.

We could be doing something exciting, fun or useful!. For examples going to the cinema, or the park, or even just doing the weekly shop! But instead, i struggle to leave my room and end up feeling trapped.

This technique helps to easy the transition from hiding to sharing the space. It’s worked very well for us and I’m sharing it incase it will work for others.

How it works.

We brought a basic child gate and we fitted it across my bedroom doorway. It didn’t need to be a good one, it’s a basic £11 model from Mothercare which fits into the wall using pressure. It took about 25 minutes to fit.

The child gate separates the space. It means that even with the door open I continue to feel safe in my room.

We put a duvet cover over the child gate (to make it more solid and easier to hide behind) and over 6 nights we slowly opened the door behind it as my anxiety allowed. Taking slow steps.

We started the process about two weeks ago. The gate combined with a relayout of my bedroom (to hide me from view when in bed) have worked well, and i have managed to have the bedroom door open for most of the visit on more than one occasion. We’re now working on opening the hallway door into the lounge.

How it helps.

The reason i hide is complicated. One major factor is that the scenario of a new carer / babysitter has very little structure. Its hard to know what to do. Whats the rules are.

What’s more, once the anxiety and derp sets in, i am less in control than i normally am. My mind is running slowly and i am having a harder time to focus and understand what is going on. It does not help i am also skirting with a panic attack if i push to far to fast.

This means it’s simplest to reduce the interactions. The less i interact the less it can go wrong. Hiding reduces the anxiety to something which is merely uncomfortable rather than unbearable.

This is where the child gate helps. It provides the security and safety feelings of having the door closed (which in turns reduces the anxiety) while also opening up the space a bit. It means i can hear the carer. We can listen to something together, we can start establishing baseline rules and structure.

If we work in small steps i can then start to beat the anxiety back. Over time my confidence grows and with it i get less derpy and therefore more able.

The child gate works really well when trying to share a new space for the first time. For me, its sharing the flat with a babysitter. But it could be useful in other scenarios, such as introducing a kid to new kids, or introducing a new pet into the home.

The child gate provides a hallway option between the door open and the door closed and this makes the transition much easier.


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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