When life moves forward there often comes the time to pick up roots and plant them somewhere else. The process of moving from a familiar home to a new one, no matter how far, can be a stressful experience for a child with behavioral issues such as ADHD or ASD. Given the large change of routine and chaotic nature of moving day, children on the autism spectrum often find this experience to be especially challenging. Here are a few strategies to help make the day go by smoothly.
Prepare Your Child Beforehand
Be sure to go over how you expect your child to behave during the move on a regular basis. Best practice is to create a social story you tell your child twice a day about a month before the move occurs. Use visuals, such as pictures or drawings, to help put them in the middle of the scenario. Explain what they can expect that day, what their role will be, and what is expected of them.
Create a Safety Plan
Since Children on the autism spectrum are prone to wandering, it is important to be extra prepared on the moving day when keeping attentions fixed on any one thing at a time will be a challenge. It is best to make sure that parents switch off keeping track of where your child is during the moving day. You may also consider having a trusted friend or family member watch your child for the day.
Get Your Child Involved
If your child is able to safely be present during moving day, be sure to give them light tasks to complete in order to keep them occupied and calm. A great task to consider is having them help organize items by adding labels.
Meet Your Neighbors Beforehand
If making the trip to the new neighborhood is practical, try introducing yourselves to the neighbors nearby. Let them know of your child’s needs so they can be aware of any safety concerns. You may also find yourselves with new trusted friends that can be part of your support network.
Make the First Week Relaxing
Your child will likely struggle with the idea of settling into a new home, and all the changes that come with it. Increased anxiety and perhaps feelings of sadness are to be expected after a move. Consider scaling back expectations of behaviors and chores for the week, along with some planned fun activities they can enjoy in their new neighborhood.