Moving to a new home can be quite an undertaking, and regardless of whether you’re moving just down the street or across the country, it can be a challenging transition for everyone involved. If you have a child with autism, moving homes is a big step that should be handled with as much care as possible. We have a list of steps that you can take with your child with autism to make your next big move a success.
Talk to Your Child with ASD
There’s nothing more terrifying than being uprooted without knowing what is actually going on. Communicating the upcoming transition to your child with ASD may be difficult, but this is an important part of the process. Try to keep a positive tone and expression whenever talking about moving, as your child will associate your reaction to the change with the change itself. Discuss who and what is moving, which can include all the your child’s toys, books, and clothes. For a child with autism, a change in routine and organized environment can be upsetting, so communicating these changes ahead of time can help with the future move.
Tell a Story
Moving is a confusing concept for any child, and giving your loved one a clear understanding of what this change will look like can help reduce his/her stress and outbursts. You can go to your local library and look for appropriate books about children moving homes. By reading these with your child with autism, you can help paint a clearer picture of what “moving” actually means. For tips on
The use of visual elements is a great way to communicate with your child. Try creating a storyboard that shows the moving process and what the steps will look like. This can help your little one see and anticipate the moving process.
Begin a Countdown
It’s a great idea to treat your upcoming move as an exciting (we hope it is!) endeavour. One way that you can help encourage excitement and anticipation within your little one is by using a countdown calendar or visual clues. You can even include your child in the countdown by, for example, asking him/her to cross off days on a paper or whiteboard calendar can help him/her visual the upcoming moving date. It can stir up excitement and create a stronger sense of involvement.
Create a Packing Process
Nobody likes packing, but before you start boxing up rooms, it is important to also include your child with ASD in this process. It may be confusing for him/her to understand what items are actually moving, and one way that you can help your child better understand what they will get to keep in their new home is by give them stickers or indicators that they can put on items that will be coming along in the moving truck. You can spend some time walking around your home and labeling items that will be boxed up, so your child can anticipate those items being packed away, before the moving truck arrives. This also creates a sense of security for your loved one, as they get to make sure to mark the items that they care about and validate that they are being taken along to their new home.
When you begin boxing up items in your home, try to pack items in your child’s room last. This helps with reduce anxiety that your child feels during the transition. You should also try to unpack and organize your child’s room first, when you arrive at your new home.
Packing and unpacking can feel pretty chaotic, but if you plan ahead of time and keep your boxes as organized as possible, you can create a more seamless transition for your family. When it comes to unpacking, being able to unload and setup your home as quickly as possible can help reduce confusion, as your child sees a multitude of boxes all over a new, sparsely decorated home.
Try to unpack methodically, starting with your child’s room. It is best to unpack one room at a time, so your child has the opportunity to see his/her old items in a new home. Keeping “living room items” only in the new living room space and reduce confusion and stress that your child might be feeling.
Moving to a new home is no easy transition, and as a parent of autism, it takes more than reserving a moving truck and finding a new school to make it all come together. Your child with ASD requires some extra TLC along the way.
At Hidden Treasures we understand the questions and difficulties that parents of autism can face. Our community of therapists and professionals work together to ensure that you and your child with ASD have the tools that you need to succeed. Contact us TODAY to learn more about our ABA therapy programs.