Moving home with children is already difficult, but with an autistic child it can become much harder. Children with autism tend to become very attached to familiar things, and they fear or don't understand changes to their lives. It's often the case that parents of autistic children have to deal with meltdowns or regression after a move. Here are three tips to make moving with an autistic child easier so the process is as stress free as possible.
Give Everyone as Much Time as Possible
You may fear telling your child about the move because of the reaction you will receive. Instead of leaving the discussion to the last minute, give your child as much time as possible to process the upcoming change. Your child will now be in a routine and will be used to the layout of the house, so moving is a major upset they need to be able to prepare for.
While discussing the move, discuss some of the positives about it. Share how your child will get the chance to set up their new room in ways that they prefer.
The time your child will need will depend specifically on your child. Those on the more severe end of the spectrum tend to need more time, but how a child processes news of a move will also depend on personality traits.
Use Visits and Pictures to Settle Your Child
Children with autism can need visual cues to help process the changes. If it's possible, take a trip to the new house or neighbourhood to show the layout. You may even be able to arrange with the sellers of the house or the rental company to visit the house with your child and take another look around. Just explain why you would like this chance, and you'll likely find people are both understanding and accommodating.
If you can't get to the new neighbourhood, especially if it is a long drive away, use pictures to help settle your child. Show images of the different rooms, especially the space that your child will call his or her room. Find images of local play areas, the school, and anywhere else your child is likely to visit. This way, the move to the new area will be less of a shock, and this can help to reduce the chance of regression. Images of any companies you will use for moving or the items your child will see on moving day will also be helpful.
Involve Your Child in the Moving Process
Your child will have their own way of dealing with the change to the routine. One thing that helps some parents is getting the child involved with the move. Give your child a chance to pack his or her own boxes. When your child packs their own things (maybe with some help) things will be organised in a way that makes sense to them, and your child may feel calmer in the knowledge that favourite items are there. Letting your child pack their own things may mean that you have less time for other tasks. When this is the case, hiring a company such as Price's Removals to help you with the rest of the house is a particularly good idea.
Some children prefer list-making or researching places in the area. If that is the case, ask your child to sit down with the computer and do that. Visual elements are excellent for stimulating the ability to process what is happening, especially if a child is too young to read very well.
Preparing a child with autism for a move is all about time and warning. When a child with autism is changing routine, it is a shock to the system. The child just won't know how to cope, and that leads to lashing out and having meltdowns. Don't spring this topic on your child. You'll have an easier moving day with a child who is ready for it.