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The Effects of Color on Autistic Children; Part III: Beneficial Colors

good colors

What colors are the best ones for autistic children? First and foremost children with autism are individuals, as are color preferences and emotional experiences. There are, however, a few colors that tend to be better suited for autistic children (and likely everyone else). School health services that offer additional support to those with special needs will have an understanding of basic principles like this, for a range of different disabilities, so that they can provide a safe space for children who need it.

The Calm BLUE Sea

Blue is a cool, calm, peaceful color that can have a soothing effect on emotions but can have the tendency to evoke feelings of sadness, “feeling blue.” This can be depressive for a child, which is where the hues of blue become important. Shades of light blue and turquoise are serene and stress reducing like gazing out into the Caribbean or sitting next to the Mediterranean Sea rather than depressing. According to the Chinese blue can be associated with wood and symbolize new growth and hope; however, it also represents a mourning color. Chroma Therapy uses sky-blue tones to ease symptoms of pain, anxiety and depression, the phrase “clear blue skies” indicates a state of wellbeing. Darker blues are used for sedative purposes and used for treating insomnia. Blues are also associated with freedom of thought, devotion, spirituality, religion, prayer, loyalty, wellness, and inspire creativity. Overall, blue may offer a color hue for every purpose under the sun. The calming, non-threatening natures of shades of blue tend to be comfortable colors for autistic children.

GREEN Means Go

Step on the gas, full speed ahead, it is safe to move through the intersection. Green can be one of the safest and most comfortable colors for your autistic child. It brings harmony and balance to the spirit. Symbolizing tranquility, hope and freshness, green can produce a calming effect. Unlike with blue, there are no worries about hues being depressive or sedative in nature. Green symbolizes health and growth. Viewing the tones of green is a natural and comfortable occurrence because the natural world around us is filled with green. Our eyes do not need to adjust to this color leaving us feeling restful. In Eastern cultures the color green represents life itself. In Color Therapy green is used to restore emotional balance, which is not surprising considering that green is the color of balance. It is at the center of the color spectrum and may be just what your spectrum child needs to feel calm, safe, and comfortable.

Fresh Peeled ORANGES

Like a glass of orange juice, the color orange is energizing, and represents happiness and power. Orange feels fresh—it invigorates and awakens the soul. Being a combination of red and yellow, it is a stimulating color; however, not as intense as red, or as volatile as yellow. It is the comfortable middle ground. Orange is associated with warmth and fun while focusing the mind on food, comfort and shelter. Orange is a great color to represent food, fun and family. In Chroma therapy orange is used to stimulate appetite, mental activity, and cheerful emotions. According to color therapists, orange is useful in treating eating disorders. This happy comfort color may be a good choice to use around autistic children especially those who have food sensitivities and other eating challenges.

PINK means Love

In Feng Shui pink means love, pure feelings, joy, happiness, and romance. In Western Cultures pink is associated with femininity and fertility, as well as infancy. Its warm neutral undertones have a subdued feeling to them. It is no wonder that pink is commonly used as a paint color in hospitals, mental health institutions, and prisons in an attempt to make people feel calm. Although, pink is seen as a part of the “red family,” has the opposite effect on our emotions. Red is intense, passionate, and can awakened strong feelings, both good and bad. Conversely, pink subdues, and comforts. It produces a mild emotional response. For autistic children soft light pink can be a good choice because it is not distracting, and may help with concentration. Like with many other colors, the tone and hues can produce drastically different results.

Blues, greens, oranges, and pinks have all been shown to have a positive effect on emotions and behaviors with very little, if any, negative impact. These four colors may be your best option when exploring which colors work best for your child. Remember, all children are different and their response to color can vary. Finding the “right” ones may take a bit of trial and error.


Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.

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