Tips for House Hunting with Your Child on the Spectrum
Moving is always a stressful and complicated endeavor. But when you have a child on the autism spectrum, the thought of packing up your household and moving somewhere new can seem like a near-impossible task. Parents often worry that their children will get overwhelmed by this major transition, and rightfully so. Children with autism thrive on routine and stability — everything that moving is not!
Are you looking for guidance? The clinical team at Lighthouse Autism Center presents this informative guide to assist families preparing to move. Whether you’re still in the process of house-hunting or you’re already packing up your home in anticipation of moving day, the following tips will help keep support your child through the process.
Establish Your Home Buying Budget
Raising a child with autism can pose a significant financial challenge for parents, even with the help of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. It isn’t easy to manage the costs of equipment, supplies, medication, childcare, education, and therapy services.
So are you prepared to handle the additional expenses involved in buying a new home, selling your existing property, and moving? Redfin recommends creating a realistic home-buying budget before you start looking at properties. Calculate how much mortgage you can afford by adding up your ongoing expenses and subtracting these from your household income. The rule of thumb is to keep your housing costs less than 28% of your before-tax income. Once you have a better idea of your home affordability, research home prices in your area to find out what kinds of homes you can afford on your budget.
Look for Specific Home Features Conducive to Your Child’s Needs
Ready to start looking at homes? Get in touch with a local real estate agent who can help you scout properties that will best fit your family. Keep an eye out for features that may appeal to your child and your family’s life style. Things to look for might include making sure there is a fenced backyard, double-pane windows to dampen noise from outside, and even considering if there are pools, ponds or bodies of water nearby.
Making a Moving Day Plan
Moving day will always feel a little hectic, no matter how much planning you do. Help keep your child calm and content amid the mayhem by giving them your full attention. Hire professional movers so you can ensure that all of your possessions make it to your new home safely while you spend time with your child. Some movers offer activity packs for children, so be sure to ask about this when you call for quotes. When you arrive in your new home, unpack your child’s room first so they can start regaining some sense of normalcy right away.
Keep Your Child in the Loop
The most important thing to remember as you prepare for your upcoming move is to keep your child in the loop. Children with autism feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. Parents.com recommends broaching the subject early so your kid has plenty of time to process the idea of moving. Highlight some things that your child can get excited about, like a bigger bedroom or backyard where they can play. Help your child visualize the days leading up to your move by writing down everything on a dedicated moving calendar.
Remember: continuous communication is key! Review your moving schedule every day, read children’s books about moving, and offer plenty of positive reinforcement when your child makes it through a day that deviates from their normal routine.
When it comes to moving, things rarely go smoothly — and that’s okay! Be prepared to go with the flow and respond to issues as they arise. Monitoring your child for signs of stress and anxiety is vital. Do what you can to prepare ahead so you can focus all of your attention on your child before, during, and after your move.
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