Moving from your childhood home can be a very difficult life event for any child, especially those with autism. While moving can be an exciting change for many, children often feel they’re being uprooted from their lives and everything they know and love. Moves that are stressful and on bad terms can affect children long after the move happens, which is why parents should ensure moves go smoothly and happen at the right times for their kids if it’s possible. Moving during summer or winter breaks when children don’t have to worry about going to a new school right away, as well as some other preparations can help make the move stress-free for your child.
Prepare Them for the Move
Depending on how far you’re moving, there may or may not be a lot of information to prepare for your kids. If the move is only down the street, but they’ll continue going to the same school, the news will be much easier for them to digest. Let them know they’ll have a bigger room or yard for their toys, or maybe a better view of the city in their new home, and that not much will change.
However, if you’re moving them across the country, you’ll need to broach the subject a little more carefully. Prepare them for how long the move will take, for different weather and terrain, to go to a new school and so on. If your child has a few close friends, give them time to spend together and say goodbye, and provide a method of communication for them to keep in touch.
Let Them Know What to Expect
As you’re preparing them for the move, let them know why the move is happening and what they can expect from it. If the move is due to a family hardship, be honest and let them know what they can expect from their new home. Children with autism especially have minds that work differently than those of other children, which means parents need to be extra sensitive in preparing them for change.
Share details about the move that they can look forward to, but mostly by simply letting them know what their new home will be like, details about the city, family, they will be closer to and their new address to memorize, they can start to familiarize themselves before they get there so it doesn’t feel as overwhelming.
Give Them Something to Hold Onto
Children with autism often require different forms of play and toys to remain engaged in what they’re doing. During the move, make sure you leave their comfort toys and objects out for them to play with so they don’t feel as lost when everything else is being moved. If you take your child to a friend or relative’s home while you’re loading up the moving truck, ensure they have a few familiar objects with them so they have a source of comfort as they transition from one space to the next.
Show Them Photos
If you had a chance to take photos when you toured the house you’re moving into, consider printing one or two of them out and making a small parchment folder with details about the house. This gives them a chance to visualize and be curious about the space and helps remove their fear and uncertainty about the move. You can also create a digital album of photos of neighborhood and city for them to look through.
Be Happy and Positive
Even if this is not a move you’re super excited about, it’s important to be happy and positive for your child. Moving can be a stressful and complicated time, but if you’re happy and positive, they’re more likely to be happy and reassured about the move as well. Look at the bright side of the move and of the new adventures that await you in your new home. If this isn’t quite enough for your child, you can always comfort them with sweet treats and other perks.
Parenting a child with special needs can be a lot of pressure, but it’s important to recognize you’re not alone. Parents who have children with autism worry about how moves will affect their children more than parents of neurotypical kids. However, by giving them the preparation they need for the move, you are giving them resources they can use to take comfort during the move.