There is no hard and fast rulebook for moving abroad with children with Asperger’s.
Because no child with Asperger’s is the same as the last. And, well, neither is any international move!
However, while there are certainly things that can cause a bit of pre-departure anxiety when prepping for an international move with your child—like breaking that well-established and hard-won routine, for a start—there are also solutions. There are always solutions.
So, take a deep breath and read on to see some of the potential stumbling blocks and how to resolve them…or at least scramble over them. Because knowledge is power, right? (Right?!)
Disclaimer: children with Asperger’s are not problems that need solving. However, their Asperger’s (especially when combined with an international move) can cause ‘problems’ to which there are some pretty simple resolutions.
Problem: You have to break your routine
Moving house implies a break in the routine, a break from the familiar and an upheaval of sorts, no matter how temporary.
For children with Asperger’s, for whom routine is crucial and reassuring, this can prove a bit of a problem. (Although take it from someone who really knows, comfort zones can grow and expand as people with autism and Asperger’s are introduced to new experiences, environments and people.)
Solution: Ship over some necessities before moving
Shipping over some essentials and bulky items kills two birds with one stone when it comes to moving abroad with a child with Asperger’s.
First of all, you can make sure their new home is set up and waiting for them when they arrive. Obviously, you can’t ship over everythingin advance, but you can send personal items that will make the place feel like home from the get go. (Hot tip: buzzmove is one of the best international removals comparisons sites out there, so check them out to find a reliable removals company near you.)
The second reason this solution is so handy is because you’ll be able to move out of your old house and get to the new one all that bit faster. Instead of spending time packing boxes yourself, and further disrupting routine around moving day, the experts can come in and do it for you! You can then simply travel with the essentials on the day, keeping key events like bedtime and mealtime relatively stable.
However, if shipping in advance isn’t an option, you should at the very least aim to pack your child’s belongings last and unload them first.
Problem: Your child can’t attend a mainstream school
Asperger’s or no Asperger’s, sorting out a child’s schooling situation can always be a bit of a problem for parents when planning a move abroad.
Where will they study?
Are we moving to a country with language barriers?
Should we go for an international school?
For parents of children with Asperger’s, and depending on the severity of your child’s Asperger’s, this can be even more of a concern,especially if you already know your child can’t just attend a mainstream school.
Solution: Research, research and more research!
This is one of those occasions when the best laid plans really are the way forward.
You should start off by researching the availability of schools that can fulfil your child’s needs.
Can’t find one?
Be prepared for a long drive to school each day or simply don’t move to that area.
If there is one, reach out well in advance and find out whether they have the space to take on an extra child in the particular class you need. Then, double check that the environment is going to be conducive to your kid’s health and happiness.
In a nutshell:make sure you’re registered and ready to go as soon as you get to your new country (unless it’s the school holidays!). That way, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress during an already stressful time.
Problem: You have to learn another language
Moving abroad may entail the need to learn another language, as much for your kids as for you. It might seem like a big ask, but there’s nothing that will make you feel more accomplished than communicating with someone in a language other than your first.
When it comes to children with Asperger’s, learning new languages canbe tricky, especially if languages don’t tap into their interests to begin with. But if your kids are young though, introducing them to a new language early could prove to be the start of a lifelong love affair with linguistics though.
Solution: Get learning!
Perhaps surprisingly, children with Asperger’s could actually benefit greatly from language learning. After all, it can help them get a grasp on communication, social norms and conversation skills,according to MFL teacher Victoria Honeybourne (who has Asperger’s herself).
This makes perfect sense, when you think about it! Multilingual people are typically better communicators and have better social skills anyway. Why would it be different for those with Asperger’s?
Of course, that’s not to say that they’ll find it easy or interesting to learn a new language though, but the benefits of trying to do so in the first place can be huge.
Are you planning a move abroad with your child? Do they have Asperger’s? If so, we hope this post has been useful. Please let us know if we missed any important tips in the comments.