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

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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.