Moving house is one of the most stressful life events we go through. For parents of a child with Asperger’s syndrome, moving day can feel like a personal Everest.
Establishing and preserving routine will have been a huge part of your family life so far, and the prospect of temporarily disrupting that can be daunting. However, with the right support and preparation, moving house can be an extremely valuable experience.
Demonstrate your strength as a team, and help your child become familiar with change in a supportive environment. By handling your house move like a pro, you’ll all be in a great position, ready for the next chapter.
Provide a safe space
The Evening Standard recently reported that “the answer to moving house stress may have been solved – by a giant cardboard box”. This was a reference to the transport company AnyVan’s recent inclusion of giant boxforts as part of their removal service for families with children. Designed to give parents a break and help children cope, toy fortresses like these provide “somewhere children can retreat to, with their toys, while everything is changing around them”.
If your child is particularly sensitive to disruption and new people, an activity base can shelter them from the upheaval whilst keeping them in your eyeline. Within these activity bases, you can set up games, music, favourite books and other distractions to occupy them whilst the removal company clear your house.
Prepare an activity itinerary
Moving day will be an action packed event for you and your partner, but it’s important that your child has a busy itinerary too. Your understanding of your own child’s hobbies and tolerances will enable you to create a day plan which won’t overwhelm or unsettle them. If it’s possible, arrange your moving day around an existing routine—keeping meals and bedtime at the usual time—this can help minimise the feelings of disruption.
Some children with Asperger’s syndrome place importance on detail, so it can be helpful to keep them informed and enlist their help to document and plan the day; a child-proof camera, fun-check lists or quizzes can provide some entertainment throughout the day.
Load their belongings into the moving van first
As your belongings are boxed up and loaded into your moving vehicle, try to ensure that your child’s things are among the last to be packed. This means that once you arrive at your new property, they will be the first boxes to be unpacked.
Many families find it helpful to introduce their child to the new house before the day of the move, so that when you arrive they already feel familiar. A great way to prepare for this is with road maps and house plans, which can be particularly fascinating to children with Asperger’s syndrome. Involving them in travel arrangements, routes and the layout of the new home is a good way to give your child a sense of authority and control.
Once their boxes have been unloaded, try to make organising their room a priority. Preparing the sleeping arrangements and layout of the room early on will reduce the anxieties around sleeping in a new environment. From small details, such as putting up old posters, to arranging the room furniture to their requests can help shed a positive light on the move.
Pack an essentials kit
A good essentials kit has everything you could need to soothe and entertain your child in a range of difficult scenarios.
On your moving day, make sure as many toys, books, DVDs and snacks you can carry are available throughout the day. Video games are usually a popular option, using a transportable game set can help your child disengage from the disruption around them.
As well as activity items, blankets, cushions and spare clothes are also a good idea. Moving can be physically and mentally draining for everyone. If your child needs to take a break and nap, there should be blankets and a space for them to relax.