Moving to a new home is never easy for any child, but for a child with autism—especially one like my non-speaking son who thrives on routines and knowing what to expect from his days and environments—it can be downright terrible. A few weeks ago we moved 2000 miles from Oregon to the Midwest, which was a tough, five-day road trip full of ups and downs for the whole family. Then, we stayed with my in-laws for three weeks while we looked for housing, which helped my son adjust a bit as he was around beloved grandparents and in a familiar home. It was just the other day that we finished moving into a new home in a city where we have lived before. Although it's been a time of many changes, now that we're finally settled, I'm thrilled to say my son is quickly adjusting to his surroundings.
To prepare for our many moves, I relied on the advice of Deborah Crawford, a certified speech-language pathologist and manager of Clinical Speech-Language Services at Kennedy Krieger Institute's Center for Autism and Related Disorders. Her 15 tips helped make our move so much smoother:
Preparing for the Move
On Moving Day
11. Go slow. Know that it may take time for your child to adjust to the new environment and it may be difficult at times. Setting up your child's bedroom before he or she arrives can help ease some of the challenges.
12. Consider medical needs. If your child struggles with sleep or anxiety, keep in mind that during times of transition medications may need to be adjusted.
13. Reach out to your neighborhood. If you are comfortable, contact your immediate neighbors or neighborhood association to share information about your family.
14. Begin building a new "village" of services and support. If moving to a new state, the local chapters of autism advocacy organizations can be helpful.
15. Your child may want to keep in touch with old friends. Encourage letter writing, phone calls and video chats to keep your child connected to old friends and other important people in their lives.
Before, during, and after our many moves, I found myself revisiting this list and then incorporating Crawford's suggestions into my own to-do lists. I hope these help you and your kids with your next move, and we'd love it if you'd share your own tips and stories about moving with kids of all abilities in the comments!