Tips for Moving When Your Child is on the Autism Spectrum
Article by Patrick Young
Moving is a stressful endeavor for any family. There are financial considerations, home, and neighborhood requirements and the physical move. For families with a child on the autism spectrum, moving can be even more challenging. Today, Love Racing and Autism discusses how you can simplify the process.
The location of the home you buy is possibly as important as the actual property. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often need a range of support services. These may include therapy, individualized educational programs (IEP), and pediatric physicians. Choosing a community with these services available and nearby reduces travel times and related stress.
Sensory Friendly explains that some stores and entertainment venues also offer sensory-friendly hours for those with autism and other special needs. Explaining these opportunities to your child beforehand may make the move more exciting for him or her.
It’s also important that you and your partner are able to find jobs close to your new home, if possible. Adding a commute to doctors appointments and errands can be a drain on time and energy. It might even be a good time to consider starting your own business that you could do from home or where your child could come with you. If you choose entrepreneurship, you’ll need a business designation. LLCs are popular for first time small businesses for their ease of establishment, liability protection, and tax benefits. If you choose this structure, you’ll need a few items, including a unique name, a registered agent, and an EIN. Most steps involve paperwork, and selecting your agent just means choosing someone 18 or older who is available during business hours.
Once you have decided on a location, a real estate agent can help you find the right home for the right price. Before hiring a real estate agent, you can check out sale prices online. Consider an open floor plan if your child needs high levels of supervision, and look for a property with outdoor space so your family can enjoy the sunshine and build a sensory garden.
According to Turbo Tenant, most houses will require some modifications to be a place where children with ASD are safe and comfortable. For example, it may be beneficial to change the flooring so that it is quieter or easier to clean, depending on your child's particular needs. You may choose to use paint colors that are either calming or stimulating for him or her.
In addition to sensory modifications, there are also safety considerations to keep in mind. Data show that individuals with an autism diagnosis are more likely to drown than their neurotypical counterparts. These individuals are also likely to wander away, so if you live anywhere near a body of water or swimming pool, install alarms and cameras to prevent wandering.
The moving process can be challenging for those on the autism spectrum. Do your best to keep your child’s daily routine as consistent as possible and reduce the moving-associated chaos by taking things slow. Be sure to explain everything to your child and make sure he or she understands. Point out all the positive aspects of the move. For example, maybe the new house has a yard, and the family can finally get a dog. Or maybe there is a really cool park nearby. Find some way to help your child get excited.
A move is a great time to minimize clutter-related stress. Although any individual can become stressed in a messy environment, individuals with sensory sensitivities are more susceptible. Toss unneeded items as you pack up your old home to avoid bringing excess on the move. And use hidden storage to remove messes in your new house.
You’ll also need to make a key decision for yourself: will you rent or sell your previous property? There are the financial implications to consider, like do you need the money from the sale as a down payment on your new house? Or are you more in need of monthly income that could be generated through renting the home? But you’ll also want to consider child-related factors, like if the move or new community are not good fits for your family, would you prefer the option to move back to your original home? Definitely think through these options before making your decision.
Find Your New Normal
Moving is a tricky business for anybody, but it can be especially tough for those with autism. Keep your child’s unique needs in mind as you move to ensure he or she stays safe and happy. But also take steps to ensure that your new home and community is a good fit for your entire family, from resources for your child to a working environment for you and your partner. And if you need to keep your old home as a safety net, do it. Remember, this move is for everyone in your family. Find the balance that makes sense for all of you.
Eric D. Zimmerman started The Buddy Project to help people with disabilities to get the technology they need to be active in today’s increasingly digital world. He shares about his mission through The Buddy Project and his passion for race car driving on his website, Love Racing and Autism. Visit Eric’s site to learn more about his nonprofit.