Changing House With Autism: Keep Your Child Comfortable, Safe, and Happy
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Every child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is unique and has different needs, as HelpGuide can attest. That means there is no one-size-fits-all process to follow when you move houses – your child will react uniquely to the move. However, there are still some steps you can take to keep your child as comfortable, safe, and happy as possible:
Be prepared for resistance
When you float the idea of a move initially, your child will likely respond negatively. As you’re doubtless aware, children with ASD thrive on routine, structure, and familiarity. Any change – no matter how small – induces stress and anxiety, and moving house is a major change. Prepare yourself for negative comments, attitudes, and general resistance at the beginning. You will have to coax them. Give it time.
Discuss the move
Start by discussing the move patiently and openly. Talk to them about what they can expect, such as a different environment, a new school, and new neighbors. Also, discuss what will be the same – you will always be there for them, for example, and they will also be able to take their old possessions with them. If possible, offer pictures and videos of the houses you have shortlisted to build up their comfort levels. If they have any fears, do your best to address them. Like Applied Behavior Analysis Edu says, remember that they’re just kids!
No perfect housing for autism
According to The Conversation, there is no umbrella housing solution for ASD. If your child suffers from physical or medical issues like seizures, sleep problems, and sensory oversensitivity, you will have to house hunt accordingly. If no suitable house exists to cater to your child’s needs, you can always remodel and create one to match.
Create a quiet space
A quiet space aka sensory room is essential. Your current home or your child’s school may have one already. These rooms are an oasis of calm for overstimulated kids. They can let their guards down here and relax. If you install the right visual aids and other tools, your child can learn self-care, recovery, and resilience. These rooms aren’t expensive to make, contrary to what you might think.
Child-proof and declutter the house
Household hazards like sharp edges, doors, electrical outlets, and stairs are always a danger for kids – especially so for kids with ASD, as they may have sensory dysfunctions. Go over the house with a fine-tooth comb and clear out all dangers. Install barriers to dangerous areas, install safety products such as outlet locks and window guards, and rearrange the furniture.
Cleaning is as important as decluttering. A clean house promotes safety and comfort. Dust and vacuum your carpets and other knick knacks, wash and sweep your floors and walls, and disinfect countertops and other surfaces. If there are stains in your couches, chairs, and other furniture, your child will find it off-putting – do your best to get rid of them.
Consider professional cleaning services – doing it yourself might not be enough. If your furniture stains won’t come out despite you using the best cleaning products, for example, employing a local upholstery cleaner can help. Read reviews online, evaluate cleaners, shortlist a few, and get a quote. Look for cleaners with solid customer testimonials who avoid all-in-one cleaning tools – you want to truly make it spick and span for your child.
Reinforce familiarity after the move
Routine is everything for children with ASD. That means you should continue your child’s usual routine after the move – arrange their room familiarly, wake them up at the same time, interact with them the same way, and expect the same things from them. They will look to you for support and guidance.
Be aware that your child may not want to be involved with the move at all. The chaos and clutter may put them off. If that’s the case, make arrangements with a caregiver or family member for your child to stay over for a few days. They can move in with you after everything is settled. Play it by ear, consider your child’s unique needs, and it will all work out okay.
Image via Unsplash
Jenny is a homeschooling mom to four children, one of whom is autistic. She and her husband made the decision to home-educate when their oldest was four years old. During this journey, they have expanded their family and faced many challenges along the way, but they have experienced great rewards.