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Tips for Moving with Children on the Autism Spectrum

Moving into a new home can be tough on everyone, children and adults alike. But kids on the autism spectrum can have an especially difficult time coping with the change in routine and environment. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to ease the transition. Many families face challenges when it comes to finding an accommodating home and navigating a move with children on the spectrum. So, we’ve put together a guide to help you out!

Positive Steps Therapy offers occupational, developmental, and speech and language therapy so your child can maximize their potential. Call 724-444-5333 or email kids@nullpositivestepstherapy.com.

Build Your Homebuying Budget

Start by creating a realistic home-buying budget so you can avoid wasting time touring homes that fall outside your affordability range. Account for your family’s annual income, your monthly expenses, and how much you have available for a down payment. Online affordability calculators on sites like Redfin can help you streamline the process and avoid miscalculations that can throw off your budget. Once you know your budget, you can start looking for homes!

Look for an Autism-Friendly Home

Moving is an excellent opportunity to find a home that will make life easier for you and your child. As you navigate the house-hunting process, keep an eye out for properties with autism-friendly features. For example, open-concept floor plans are ideal for people on the spectrum because they allow a clear line of sight through the home. Homes with open layouts also make great activity centers during bad weather! As you tour homes, pay attention to outside sounds like loud traffic and barking dogs. Newer homes with good insulation may block these noises better.

Don’t forget to check out the yard space! Outdoor play is incredibly important for children with autism. As Autism Awareness Center explains, playing outdoors builds physical strength, improves sensory processing skills, boosts attention span, and supports a positive sense of wellbeing. Look for secure, fenced yards with space for your kids to run and play safely. You may even want to build an outdoor sensory play area! A swing set, for example, can offer a soothing escape for kids who are feeling overstimulated, so read reviews and compare key components like materials, durability, cost, and extra features to find the perfect one.

Keep Your Kids in the Loop

Kids with autism are especially sensitive to changes in routine. Giving your child a heads up about your move can help ease any feelings of stress that may come with this transition. Talk to your kids about your plans to move and give them plenty of time to mentally prepare. If possible, bring your child along to visit your new home and show them their new room. You can also take this opportunity to explore your new neighborhood and get your kid excited about nearby parks and playgrounds. If you can’t visit, show your kid pictures of the home and neighborhood.

Unpacking and Settling In

When you finally arrive in your new home, help your child get settled in by unpacking their room first. Encourage them to help you unpack and decorate their new space. You may also want to make a few home upgrades to help your child thrive. For example, consider painting the walls in calming, muted colors and applying film to the windows to reduce glare from sunlight. You could even install dimmer switches throughout your home to gain greater control over your lighting intensity.

Search for Local Services

Remember, getting settled into a new place can be tough for parents too! Make sure you know where to go for support as you get to know your new area. Search around for local services that can help your child through this transition and take some pressure off you. Local special needs advocates and groups for parents of children with autism can also offer support.

Moving will never be easy, especially when you have a child on the spectrum. While your family is bound to go through a few ups and downs as you navigate the moving process, you’ll settle into your new home before you know it!

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Lauren Toolan