Anyone who has ever moved from one home or community to another can attest to how stressful that transition can be. In fact, multiple experts have confirmed that moving is the third most stressful event many people experience during their lifetimes.
It should come as no surprise then, that moving is particularly stressful for people with autism, many of whom rely on consistency and structure to feel safe and secure.
Fortunately, there are strategies that can relieve much of the stress of moving. MyMove.com has put together these suggestions for making your move as stress free as possible.
1. Give advanced notice
And we mean a lot of it. Make sure that your child is aware of plans to move as soon as the details are final. This will allow your child more time to process the idea of relocating and to ask any questions and discuss any concerns they may have. MyMove.com recommends creating a calendar that provides visual representation of important dates related to the move.
2. Talk about the move
Let your child know why the move is necessary and focus on what the move will mean for their daily life. This is a good opportunity to tell your child about anything that may excite them about the move. For example, we’ll have room for an adaptive swing-set and a sensory room or the new house has a fenced-in yard so you can finally have the dog you’ve been wanting. Be prepared to tell your child everything you know about their new school, caregiver or day program. MyMove.com suggests creating a social story about the move to help decrease your child’s anxiety. Find an example of a social story on MyMove.com’s website.
3. Enlist your child’s help with packing
Packing can be one of the most stressful parts of moving for adults and children alike. But there are ways to make the process less stressful. If your child is capable, give them a job such as assembling or labeling boxes. Give your child as much control as possible about what to keep and what to give away. Allow your child to choose new bedding with their favorite character or theme, and within limits, let them have their say about paint colors and decorations. MyMove.com recommends saving your child’s room for last when it comes to packing up the house. This will minimize confusion and anxiety. If all else fails, bubble wrap is always good for some fun!
4. Prepare your child for their new surroundings
If you’re moving to a community close to your current home, help your child get to know his new neighborhood by planning excursions around the region. If possible, take your child to visit their new home and walk around the neighborhood stopping at places your child is likely to enjoy. Is there a great ice cream parlor nearby? A movie theater showing their favorite film? A wonderful playground? Knowing these attractions are close to their new home will make the transition easier for your child. If you’re moving far away, assemble photographs of the new house and neighborhood and show them to your child frequently. This will help to prepare them for the move and feel more comfortable about what to expect.
5. Visit your child’s new school
If possible, visit your child’s new school before the move. If not, do your best to visit school before the new school year starts. Try to arrange a meeting with your child’s new teacher and help your child become acclimated to a new school building.
For more helpful moving suggestions, visit mymove.com.