Although making a move with children with autism brings unique challenges, it is possible to follow some simple tips to ease your child’s anxiety. It is important to prepare ahead of time and keep routine activities going as normal for the most part. This will help both you and your child better adjust to the changes that moving to a new home involves. Here are some tips on how to prepare effectively.
1.- Create itinerary for the moving day
Create a complete itinerary for your moving day and share it with your child in advance. Within the itinerary, cover as many details as possible, such as what time everyone should wake up, what time the professional moving service will arrive, and what actions you will take for packing and loading onto the moving trucks.
2.- Prioritize safety
Autism manifests itself differently in each child. Be aware of your child’s triggers and prioritize ways you can help ease their stress. Your child may feel very upset when his packed belongings are being loaded into the car. He may not understand that he will be able to see them when they are unpacked.
Be prepared with pictures of their belongings and pictures of their new home, so they can see where the belongings are going. Within the itinerary you have created, make sure your child knows what to do throughout the day, so everyone can focus on one activity.
3.- Assign your child easy tasks.
In the schedule, assign simple tasks for your child to do during the day. Allow them to do the tasks they enjoy the most: maybe cleaning up at the end of the move or making sure everything is counted. Throughout the process, make sure there is someone she or he can talk to if they have any questions or need help.
4.- Put together a comfort kit.
If moving day is too overwhelming, it will be helpful to have a comfort kit handy for your child. Before packing everything up, set aside some of your child’s favorite items, such as books or toys. If you see that they are experiencing too much anxiety about the move, show them where the comfort kit is and let them know that they can use it as much as they need throughout the day.
5.- Take breaks
As part of the moving day itinerary, you should incorporate breaks where your child can rest and take time away from the move. Make sure their comfort kit is close during these breaks so they can play with toys to help lower stress levels.
6.- Always have a plan B
If you have everything well organized, moving day will go smoothly with stress at the lowest possible level. However, if your child experiences more anxiety than you expected, plan for alternative childcare so they can be somewhere away from the chaos of moving day.
Think about a daycare center, a babysitter, a family member or friend, someone your child is already comfortable with, who can take care of your child for the whole day or part of it. Also remember to hire an appropriate moving company that can give you the best assistance throughout the move.