How to Move with a Child on the Spectrum

Thanks to Lacie Martin for her guest blog post this week!

How to Move with a Child on the Spectrum

Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, and it is even more stressful when you have a child on the spectrum. Autistic children take comfort from familiar surroundings and routines, and moving them to a new home can be very disruptive. Fortunately, there are strategies you can implement that will make the transition less disruptive for you and your child. 

Selling Your Home

The first step to obtaining a new home is selling your old one. Keep in mind that the prospect of moving for an autistic child can be harrowing. Your child will need reassurance that things will be okay, and they’ll need time to adjust. Be prepared for a few meltdowns along the way.

These are all steps that are going to make things better for your family down the road, even though slowing down and tackling each one is not always easy. If there’s time, take time. If it’s a move that needs to be made in a hurry, try not to skip steps.

Organizing your home

Create a moving to-do list and a timeline. Even if you haven’t purchased a new home yet, it’s never too early to start organizing your clutter. Empty cabinets and sort items into piles: one to throw away, one to give to charity or sell, and one to pack for the move. Decluttering and practicing minimalism is helpful to avoid overloading sensory needs.

Cleaning Your Home

A home that is clean and free of clutter makes it more attractive to potential buyers. Take steps to stage your home by depersonalizing and removing evidence of pets. Allow as much natural light into your home as possible. Boost your curb appeal by cleaning your yard, planting some flowers, and adding a new coat of paint to your front door.

For an autistic child, any change in environment or routine can be traumatizing. The Deron School has good tips for getting an autistic child to clean their room. If everyone is cleaning the house, being involved can be fun for an autistic child, as long as it’s not too overwhelming. Being an active agent in the cleaning, reorganizing, and rearranging is better than sitting back while the house changes.

The Home-Buying Process

Research home prices in your target area to ensure you can afford to purchase a home there. Carefully consider which neighborhood you want to move into. Look for an area with a good school system, parks nearby, and other amenities you desire.

The next step is to find a home loan. Autism Speaks suggests exploring all possible avenues of housing funds, including donations, grants, and tax credits. The more money you can put down, the more favorable interest rate you will have. If you put down a smaller percentage, your monthly payments will increase.

Renting Instead of Buying

If there is a great area that is perfect for your entire family, but there aren’t homes that fit your needs, consider renting an apartment. The change may be more difficult for your child, so you will have to weigh your options carefully. Saving money while being in this better location may make it worth the additional stress. If you’re looking for a place in Huntington, New York, expect to pay upwards of $5,000 for a two or three bedroom apartment. Getting your child’s opinion of the new home will help you make the right decision. Narrow down choices and try to get them to imagine living in one of them.

Settling into Your New Home

Children often don’t understand the choices that adults have to make, and this statement may be even more true if your child is on the spectrum. Do your best to convey what is happening and help them to be involved in the process. Work as a team to clean up and declutter, and look at potential houses and apartments together.

The Child Mind Institute explains that, while your child’s opinion isn’t the ultimate deal breaker, being involved can help them to process the change with less apprehension. No matter what, this process will be stressful, so take a few deep breaths and take breaks when needed. Before long, you will all be settled in your new rental and back in your old (possibly modified) routine.

Bonanno Clinical Services helps young children improve functioning and well-being through play therapy. Contact us today to learn more! 631-760-1714

(Photo by Unsplash)