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Moving with Special-needs

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    Moving with Special-needs

    In January of this year, we had to suddenly leave our home after a decade, due to toxic mold. We've lived in small, temporary spaces since then (for the better of six months).

    My special needs child has done remarkably well with these transitions. We've prayed alot, kept right on with the routines (though streamlined) and he's had access to good 1-1 & group therapy.

    We may not start schooling September 6, as planned, but as routine is so vital to our sanity, I will work hard to begin as soon as possible.

    It's highly possible that we may do a major international move in the next month. If so, this will add another layer of stress and transitions to a current situation that is far from the one I so want for my children.

    Fortunately, my SC orders are done ☑️ and I just have a bit to do on the planning ahead side of things.

    I would be grateful to know some tips on how families have made big transitions smooth and painless for their children who have special needs.
    expat mama south of the border
    DD (15) MP 9 Core, modified, (Greek, Music Theory)
    DS (11) SC4
    DS2 (8) SC1
    DS3 (4) SCC soon!

    Dear Grace, you and your child with special needs have done remarkably well so far. You will do remarkably well should another move come your way.

    I wonder if "smooth and painless" might be unrealistic expectations to place upon yourself. Maybe it would be helpful to think of the possibly upcoming transition as being "reasonably smooth" and another time for growth and resilience.

    Twenty years ago when my children were four we made a major change from a small and rather icky apartment to our home in a lovely, wooded lake area where we now live. No matter how much we visited and no matter how much of an improvement this change would be for us, my son did not want to leave his little room. I could not puzzle this out. He has never loved changes, but we thought we had handled everything up front to avoid difficulties. He had traveled with us. We had shown him the new home. He had happily helped choose a train border for his bedroom. Yet he became tearful, sullen, and forlorn. He did not want to leave that cramped apartment. I spoke with him and asked questions. He feared he could not take his favorite things with him. We had no idea!

    My daughter seemed to trust instinctively that all would be well, but my son was anxious and sad until we assured him that "Flat Bunny" (a stuffed animal he loved so much he had squished it flat), his train blanket, and all of his toys were going to be packed, loaded, and brought with us. My daughter needed only to come along for the fun, but my son needed step-by-step evidence that all would be well. When we packed, we saved out a carry-along bag for him to pack his smaller favorite things last, so he could carry them with him. This helped immensely.

    Social stories can help. "Some people enjoy moving. Moving lets us meet new people and see new places."

    Visual plans of the process can help. You can combine visual plans with social stories. Start with a drawing or photo of your current place. Next: packing up, his favorite things, and everyone in the family. Then: the new place, unpacking his favorite things, and the entire family with everyone present and accounted for. Close the social story with reassurance: "No matter where we go, we take our favorite things and everyone in the family with us. We stay together."

    You might add, "God knows what we need before we ask Him. God cares for us, daytime and nighttime. Wherever we go, God is with us." This can be good for mamas as well.


      Dear Grace,

      My family has been in "moving mode" for a few months now. We are in the process of moving across town, so nothing on the scale of an international move, but we have met with a number of delays that have kept us in transition mode far longer than I'd planned or hoped. I agree with Cheryl that moves just aren't smooth and painless, but they can be a great opportunity for growth. With my special needs son, our move is especially painful because he is extremely attached to the garden he began when he was 4 years old (he's 16 now). Although he has dug up a lot of his plants to bring along with him, he is deeply attached to certain trees he's grown from seed that are too large to transport and even to our *soil* that he has mulched, composted, and tilled for basically his entire life. He's very conscious of just how long it will take to get another yard to the level of fruitfulness that ours is now.

      What we are doing to try to keep things "reasonably smooth" are the same things you mentioned: keeping a routine for him, making use of helpful therapy, and a lot of praying, for him and with him. He's dealt with the stress by working with visual plans of the house and yard and drawing plans for a new garden. I don't know exactly how the situation will work out in terms of growth--I can only trust that the Lord has a plan for him in leading our family down this path.

      Something that has helped all my boys (not just the one with special needs) deal with the stress has been demolishing old things that we needed to get rid of anyway. :-) They loved smashing up an old playhouse and dismantling our homemade fire pit. They've been begging me to let them break apart the swingset too.

      We've also been watching comedy routines as a family in the evenings!

      DS16, 10th with MPOA
      DS14, 7th
      DS13, 6th
      DD13, 6th
      DS7, MP1 with Barton Reading & Spelling
      DD4, JrK
      DS 23 mos

      Homeschooling 4 with MP
      2 in classical school


        Thank you both for the encouraging and practical advice!

        We have done 1 evacuation and 2 moves since January, now living with a family member very temporarily while our possessions sit in a little storage facility. It's ridiculous but it's all been necessary.

        I think the hardest thing has been the lack of quiet spaces to unwind (because we've lived in shared spaces) and living with so many unknowns of where we will ultimately rest our heads.

        Once we know our permanent home, I will try to get our children involved with the planning. I like the idea of using more social stories, which can be used right away, regardless.

        Thank you!
        expat mama south of the border
        DD (15) MP 9 Core, modified, (Greek, Music Theory)
        DS (11) SC4
        DS2 (8) SC1
        DS3 (4) SCC soon!


          Yes, when we were in the cramped apartment I remember the need for a place to reflect and just "be" as a family! Adding this: I found a nearby park complete with a pond, swans and geese, a playground, and some farm animals. We became so familiar with this park (for my own necessary refreshment) that our PT was thrilled by all of the walking and climbing. Though we had needed to relinquish our two dogs during our move to the apartment, during this time my children became endearingly attached to Peanut Butter, a retired donkey we visited often at this park. God provides! Keep us posted --
          Last edited by cherylswope; 08-14-2019, 10:08 AM.