Making Moves

Categories: Parent Perspective

Moving to a new home can be a huge challenge. There are so many things to consider when moving especially when there is an autistic child involved. I needed to consider the safety of the home and the surrounding area. I checked  to see if  there were any bodies of water nearby; including  private swimming pools. I looked to see the proximity of parks since this could possibly be a point of elopement. I also looked at streets that may have a lot of through traffic. We looked at many homes before deciding on the right one for us.

Another thing to think about was  how my daughter might feel in a new home. Most children take a little time to get use to their new surroundings. This would be a strange place for her at first.  Children with autism thrive on a consistent routine and the unknown can sometimes cause an adverse effect. It’s also common for children to seek areas in the home that bring peace and comfort. I thought about potential areas in the new house that Ady would enjoy and that I could make extra inviting for her. She had particular window spaces that she enjoyed sitting at and looking out of and a play area in the yard she would retreat to. I wasn’t quite sure how she would react to a new space with different surroundings.

Prior to our move one of the ideas that her behavioral support team had was to develop a social story that she could look at to help her gain an understanding of what would be happening. This was comforting to me as a parent because I worried that it would be such a drastic change for her. Prior to the move, she was in the same home her entire life. This worked well for Ady. She had a day or two where there seemed to be a little confusion getting off the school bus, but overall she has transitioned to the new house with barely any issues.

After moving into the new home one of our challenges was to let the neighbors know about Ady and what to do in a situation if she were to elope from our property. Especially older people in the neighborhood who may not have a clear understanding of what her autism looks like. For example, they may try to ask her- her name and she will not respond. She might not even make eye contact. So I decided with the help of her behavioral team to write a letter introducing ourselves to the our new neighbors. I explained that Ady was diagnosed with Autism and even though she is ten years old- she is non verbal and has sensory issues. Witj the exception of a few words Ady relies on a speech device. She uses Proloquo 2 to help her to communicate. I explained that Ady has a tendency to wonder if she were to get out of the fenced in yard. I included my address, phone number, and a current picture of her so that if this were to happen they would be able to contact me right away.

The response was amazing. Neighbors stopped by to meet us and we talk to them on our family walks frequently. They can spot Ady right away. I’m really glad that I thought of the idea and I hope other families can benefit from me sharing the idea.

Please feel free to use and share.

Safety and peace of mind are priorities. There are a few must have products that were in our old home and now I’ve purchased for our home. Here are a few of my favorites:

Child Safety Door Alarms

Lock Box There are things that Ady will seek out relentlessly due to her sensory processing disorder. These itens are placed in lock boxes in the bathrooms. I’ve found them to be very useful.

I hope some of these ideas can be helpful to other families ready to make the big move. Even though I felt hesitant at first primarily because I worried about my daughter disliking the change. I’m so glad that we did it it. Now that we’re completely moved in we couldn’t be happier. I can tell Ady loves the new house as well. I learned that she can be more flexible than I thought and there are ways to ease the anxiety of big changes like a move. So go for it if you have the opportunity!

Susan Bitler
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