Practical House-Hunting Advice for Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum

The following is a guest blog by Jenny Wise. Ms. Wise enjoys providing advice to parents who are considering homeschooling their kids. She chronicles her family’s ups and downs in homeschooling on her site, Special Home Educator, as well as provides helpful homeschooling tips and resources.

Child With Dog

Image via Pexels

Change can be especially hard for families with children on the autism spectrum. However, sometimes the benefits of moving outweigh the hassle. In order to mitigate any negativity and trouble that arises from the decision to move, it’s important to make a plan of action before you start house-hunting. Know what you’re looking for, start the adjustment process early, and try to keep your gaze on the joy this change can bring. From working with an expert realtor to creating a special spot for your child, here is how you can do just that.

Preparing Your Family in Advance

As soon as moving becomes an option, it’s important to start opening conversations amongst your family on why moving is desirable, its benefits, and what can be expected. Explain what you’re looking for in a new neighborhood, and have an honest conversation with your spouse about what you can realistically afford. Make the whole family feel involved, though expect some resistance — it will fade over time.

To avoid the feeling of instability, it might be best to leave house-hunting to the parents. But once a home is chosen, take pictures and show them to your child regularly, allowing them to give their opinions.

Finding the Right House

Many things that may bother people on the autism spectrum can be easily fixed (e.g., paint colors, lighting, appliances, etc.). On the other hand, others may be more difficult and taken together can be costly (e.g., echoey rooms, design, ease of shelves and countertops, etc.). Look for a home that will simplify your life. Look for floor plans that flow — where every room has a purpose and the materials used are durable.

Preparing the Home

Make the house move-in ready, and keep it simple by hiring professionals to make it neat before moving in. This can be in the form of hiring a cleaning service to thoroughly clean your new home from top to bottom, having the air ducts cleaned, and working with movers who can transport your belongings and help unpack.

Upon Move-In

The transition can be smoother if the new home looks much like the previous home with the same furniture. It’s important to bring all the items your child is fond of and used to. If you would like to transition to new furniture, consider doing that slowly over time.

If the house has hardwoods, bring in thicker, plush rugs to help absorb sounds. Adding fluffy pillows and blankets in rooms will also reduce echos and reverb. In addition to the benefits of being able to control the lighting, curtains can also serve as a noise-reducer.

A Designated Spot

Help make the house a home for your child by creating a special place for them. If there’s an extra room, garage, basement, or den, then you are in luck because you can spread out. If not, just focus on their bedroom. Try to make the space comfortable — a retreat when the world becomes too much. Choose soothing paint colors, playable surfaces, climbable areas, and most importantly, a safe place for them to explore.

Finding a new house can be fun and exciting for the whole family. With a child on the autism spectrum, the process will just require some additional planning and preparation. As soon as possible, get your child involved, make the introduction over time, and give them all the info they need. By planning in advance and prepping the home to accommodate your child’s needs, you can find the perfect house to serve as your new home.

If you’re new to the area and your child is in need of certain therapies, look to the services of Gem State Developmental Center.

Register for Hoop Camp 2021 – Basketball camp for adults & children with special needs

GSDC is excited to spread the word about Hoop Camp 2021! This is a unified and inclusive basketball camp for all adults and children (5-75+ years of age) with additional and special needs. Children, friends and family without disabilities are also encouraged to attend.

Click here for the Hoop Camp 2021 registration form, which also contains more information about the program. You can also visit their website at https://hoop.camp, or by clicking on the image below.

Hoop Camp

Check out our 2020 Winter Newsletter!

Take a look at the GSDC newsletter for 2020! We have puzzles, games, updates, and some fantastic participant artwork!

Click here to view or download a PDF copy of the newsletter!


Note: The first batch of printed newsletters had a misprint on the page 7 puzzle (“Pascal’s Puzzle Tree”). This error has been corrected for future batches, including in the link above. To make sure you have the correct version of the puzzle, look at the last row on the tree. Both “462” cells should be touching. If there’s a space between them, please print out the fixed version.

For our avid puzzle-solvers, we sincerely apologize for any potential frustration caused by this error!

New pandemic helpline: Free teletherapy for people with IDD and their staff

This has not been an easy year for any of us, and the presence of COVID-19 can be felt in every aspect of our lives. For people with developmental disabilities and those who care for them during this pandemic, feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety are commonplace. COVID-19 affects us far more than just the physical symptoms – the mental health impact of this pandemic is enormous, and according to recent research, individuals with developmental disabilities are dealing with more COVID-19 mental and emotional health complications than nearly any other population.

As a result of this, The Arc of California teamed up with the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare, and together they just launched a new hotline designed specifically to address this need. Called “Project Connect,” this teletherapy service aims to provide support, referrals, and guidance to those with developmental disabilities and their staff. It is operated by social work graduate students 24-hours per day, and is entirely free.

To learn more about Project Connect, please refer to the following article. You may also reach the number directly at 888-847-3209.

Celebrating one year under new ownership!

As the administrator of Gem State Developmental Center, I am proud to announce that we have crossed another milestone in the history of our company. On October 12th, our company completed its first year under the new ownership of Lori Jo Poole, LCSW, with noteworthy success, prosperity, and certainty.

What began as the first privately owned and operated DDA in Idaho with just two employees has continued to stand tall in the DD field and among the other 70 developmental disability agencies in the state. Over the past year, our company has made a smooth transition with countless achievements and accomplishments. These achievements are accredited to our excellent direct support professionals, program support, and leadership teams. Through the support and hard work of our excellent teams, our accomplishments have exceeded all goals, objectives, and expectations. Every one of you played a very important role in the development and sustainability of our company.

It is your enthusiasm, support, and dedication that has brought us to this height. Gem State Development Center shall ever remain indebted to the contributions of its employees. We are grateful to all who trusted in us to help them with support and services. The demands, challenges, and feedback have only pushed us forward with greater success, hope and anticipation for the future.

Thank you for a great year of leadership, Lori Jo. We are excited for the next one!

-Corey Makizuru, Administrator

Masks save lives, but which ones work best?

The simple act of wearing a mask in public could save the lives of your loved ones and the other families in our community. This minor inconvenience is a massive benefit to our health and safety, and it’s the best way to safeguard the people who matter to us during this pandemic.

But what kind of mask should you choose? Some materials and types are better than others, and others offer virtually no protection at all. Based on the latest scientific research and expert interviews, GSDC has compiled the following ranking of various masks. Please keep it in mind when you’re deciding what type of mask to trust your family’s safety to.

Mask Info Card

Please wear a mask for the sake of someone you love.