We recently moved, and I was quite nervous to go through the process with an autistic child. Routine, structure, repetition are all things he craves. Change is something he avoids so change is something I try to avoid. I can’t think of a bigger change for a 4 year old than moving!
A lot of credit goes to his Behavior therapist and the preparation we did to get him ready for the move. I learned a few tricks along the way to help if your child is autistic.
- Social stories. Our therapist made a social story and we added pictures to it and read it to Brady often. It showed a family picture, then a picture of the boxes in various rooms, a picture of the new house, his new room and then another family picture.
- Pack his/her room last. With the house in disarray, I wanted one constant for Brady. We sorted through things and packed what he couldn’t see in drawers, but left his room to pack up for the very last. He liked having a place that felt “normal” in the sea of chaos.
- Set up his/her room first. When we arrived at the new house in the moving truck, we let him explore while bringing in boxes, but when the day was done, so was his room. Everything was in it’s place so he had another refuge from the boxes that filled the house.
- Have their new bedroom look as much like the old as possible. I set Brady’s room up almost identically to how it was set up at the last house. His new room is a bit bigger with a smaller closet, so it’s not exact, but it’s close enough that he slept
fineokay the first night and smiled when he saw his room all put together.
- Let him/her explore. The first few days he was a curious cat, looking in every room, closet, window, etc. He’d look in the same room three times in a span of a few minutes before moving on to the next. Each time he explored a new room he was getting more comfortable.
- Accept that the first few days will be rough (i.e. buy wine…for you, that is). It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park with us all dancing and singing how gloriously he was adjusting, but it went about as smooth as it could considering the stories I had heard of others moving.
Now that the move is behind us, Brady is back to being the goofy guy we know and love. He’s also a lot happier we aren’t spending 4-plus hours in the car driving to all the various schools! This is how we spend our (much shorter) car pool lane time…