Wednesday, March 2, 2011

House Hunting, Moving, and Autism

As we prepare to move, we're talking more about it. The children have many questions.

I have tried to provide information so that we all get a feel for our new state and town before we get there. I bought travel guides, one to the entire state, and a second to the big city closest to where we'll be living. I need to buy a Kids Love Travel guide to the state, as well, but none of the book stores here have them for me to purchase.

I bought each member of the family a map of the state that we are moving to. They were 99 cents at an outlet book store. The maps were a Christmas stocking stuffer. (Don't you hate to fold up those things?) Not one of us remembered to bring a map to our house hunting trip, though, and we could have used it that week as we traveled the area and began to learn where one area is in relationship to another.

Part of moving is the whole house-hunting experience, and as I looked at houses online in prepration for a house-hunting trip, I often invited my children to peek at a property with me as a preview.

I purchased books for children about moving. The Berenstain Bears book is one of them.

As we prepared to house hunt, the real estate agent asked how to prepare for my child who is on the autism spectrum. I asked her if she'd make a packet of information about the homes we'd see for my girl. The real estate agent had a better idea; she'd make a packet about the homes AND give my girl some smiley face and frown face stickers to put on them. When we arrived, the real estate agent had a cute tote bag, some colored pencils, some stickers, and information about each house (that included photos of each house) we'd see that day.

I also explained that the more we could make the children active participants in the process, the more engaged and interested they would be, and that a child with autism needs to be an active participant, needs a role, so she's not passively being dragged around from house to house.

Our agent was amazing. After opening the first couple of front doors, knocking loudly, sticking her head inside the door and calling out, "KNOCK KNOCK!", she began to let my daughter unlock and open all the front doors we approached. My girl never missed a beat, opening each door, knocking loudly, and calling out "KNOCK KNOCK!" exactly as the agent had done. Adorable.

We were able to have meetings with our real estate agent in our hotel room, which helped. Meeting outside of her office required a bit more work for her, as she had to drive to her office to make copies and send faxes and such, but the sacrifice made waiting easier in my girl.

We did make two trips to the house we chose, so the children have seen it and explored it.

So, we've explored a new career: real estate agent, (thanks, Beverly for reminding me of that).

Now, to make the actual move.

I would love to hear from folks who have moved with a child who is on the autism spectrum.


Unknown said...

We actually just moved from CA to OK last week, with our 4 year old neurotypical daughter and 5 year old child with Autism. He did remarkably well. The things that really helped in terms of travel and saying goodbye to family in CA was flying, rather than driving (my dh drove the moving van and we flew), and bringing my mom along for a short visit. We ended up staying at her house in CA for a week before moving, then just brought her along with for a few days after we moved (she flew with us).

The other thing that seemed to help was a) setting up his room first thing, so at least his room looked the same and had a sense of normalcy and b) getting back to homeschooling asap. We started back with school within 5 days. It helps to be back to a normal routine.

He has done really really surprisingly well with all the transition. We did have some problems when packing because there was like NO structure at all, and my dh was traveling alot looking for work. But now things are settling down. Good luck with the move. :)

Bekah and Corey said...

What a wonderful real estate agent you had!

Rachel said...

I love that you had a real estate agent that was so willing to work with you and HELP your daughter process it!

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