For parents of children with autism, establishing norms and sticking to them is the name of the game. But this isn’t always possible when moving into a new home. This process can completely upend years of hard work and progress if not handled properly. Here are some tips to make moving easier for children with autism.
Preparing for the Move
It is important to plant the seed about your upcoming move in your child’s head as early as possible. Introduce the concept of moving ahead of time to allow them time to come to terms with what relocation means. Be sure to talk about the positives of a new home, as well as things that you look forward to doing. Create a schedule in advance and get your child excited about all the possibilities that come with moving. Have information on hand to answer any questions and let your kid know that you are available to answer any questions they might have.
One way to simplify the process is to encourage your child’s involvement in the process. If possible, save packing your kid’s room for last to avoid disrupting their routine until the last possible moment. When packing boxes, be sure to encourage your child to decorate them to help them identify what is packed away.
On moving day, give simple, age-appropriate tasks that your child can help with. This will help them feel empowered while keeping them away from some of the more dangerous jobs. Then, when you get to your new home, unpack their room first to help them settle into the new place quicker.
If the move is going to be long-distance, encourage your child to pack de-stressing activities and toys available for the car ride. A cross-country road trip mixed with moving is a recipe for high-stress situations if your child isn’t properly prepared.
Not all children with autism spectrum disorders can handle the stress of moving. If you are worried about your child’s ability to cope, consider having them visit a trusted friend or family member for the day. If your child will be helping with the move, try to include a comfort kit that has beloved toys or other comforting items.
One of the most important parts of raising a child with autism is being able to recognize triggering events that may cause anxiety. If you notice any signs, be sure to stop and provide reassurance that everything is ok and will be back to normal soon. The same goes for overstimulation. Encourage your child to take a break if they need it to help cope with the stress of moving.
Once you have moved into your new home and begin to settle in, the final tip to make moving easier for children with autism is to quickly establish the new normal. Try to keep things as similar as possible to your old home, including mealtime and bedtime routines. This includes setting your child’s room up in a similar way and keeping their daily schedule as unchanged as possible.