According to a recent report from the CDC, an estimated 1 in 54 U.S. children have received an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. While specific symptoms — and the severity of those symptoms — vary from child to child, one commonly experienced symptom is anxiety surrounding changes in one’s routine and surroundings.
Moving to a new home can be particularly challenging for children with ASD. Since it is such a departure from the norm, life can quickly feel unsettled and scary.
If you are planning a move in the near future, The Communication Spot recommends these proactive steps to help your child stay safe in your new home, and to help them feel as comfortable as possible throughout the transition.
Assess your child’s individual needs before house hunting
No one knows your child the way you do. Although general house hunting tips that are specific to ASD can be a helpful resource, it is critical to assess your child’s unique needs. Because symptoms can vary so significantly, a one-size-fits-all approach to finding a new home doesn’t work.
Instead, start your journey by creating a prioritized list of features that your home will need to have to best accommodate your child. Consider physical, emotional, cognitive, and safety needs to help draft a comprehensive list. You can also choose to introduce the idea of moving to your child at this stage. Experts continue to agree that the earlier you can begin discussing the change, the better your child will cope in the long-run.
Choose home features that will help your child thrive
Using the list that you just created, begin searching for and touring homes that offer features that will help your child thrive. This may include accessibility features, a fenced-in backyard, or a home layout that is similar to your current one.
To help narrow your search, be sure to communicate all desired features with your realtor. This will help prevent wasted time viewing properties that are ultimately not a good fit. Additionally, before agreeing to seriously consider a home, ensure that it meets all essential requirements.
When touring each property, carefully assess all potential safety risks. According to Autism Speaks, wandering and drowning are two of the biggest hazards for individuals with autism. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid properties that are near busy roads, that don’t feature a fence, or that have a swimming pool or nearby body of water.
Take steps to prepare your child for the move
The most important part of helping children with ASD successfully move to a new home is to prepare them well in advance. As soon as you know that you will be moving, start talking to your child about the change. Explain why your family will be relocating, and discuss what they can expect in the coming days, weeks, and months. Better yet, include therapist Michelle Miller in your plan, and ask her for ways to discuss this transition with your child.
As you consider various homes, don’t be afraid to involve your child in the process. Despite COVID-19 restrictions with in-person viewings and open houses, virtual tours allow your child to see where you may soon be living. In addition to keeping everyone safe, these virtual tours and open houses allow you to chat online with sellers, while your child explores images of each property.
Through advanced, strategic planning, you can make the move to a new family home a positive experience for your child with ASD. From start to finish, be clear, consistent, and transparent in your communication, and don’t hide important details from your child. By actively including your child at every step, and by serving as a guide for them through this process, they will feel more comfortable and more at ease through this major change.
Whether you’re new to the area or want to connect with a new speech therapist, turn to the expert services of Michelle Miller at The Communication Spot. Reach out today! 770-795-4990 or firstname.lastname@example.org