If your child has sensory processing disorder, a neurological condition that causes your child to filter sensory information in a unique way, a household move can come with additional challenges. The unpredictability of SPD can make it difficult for your family to change its normal routine without upsetting your child — and moving will obviously disrupt the daily routines that your child relies on.
Your concerns are natural and warranted. The steps in the moving process, like packing and finding a new neighborhood, may seem normal to you, but they can induce stress or sensory overload in someone with SPD. At some point during your move, the changes may trigger a meltdown or similar negative reaction in your child.
As you prep for your move, consider these tips to make the transition easier on your child.
Involve Your Child
Leading experts in caring for special needs children believe they need routines because they lack control in their own lives. You can give your child a sense of control if you let him or her help with different steps in the moving process.
For example, rather than packing and putting items in storage while your child is at school or playing outdoors, let your child with SPD assist in the packing process so he/she feels some control over the situation around them. As your family is packing, let your child know what is going on, using age and developmental appropriate language to gain understanding. In some cases, using pictures of moving trucks or other images can be better than verbal communication.
Allow your children to pack their own toys — or the toys of a sibling if they don’t want theirs disturbed — or other items in the home. Your child with SPD may wish to unpack and repack the same items daily until the move as part of a chore.
Keep a Safe Room
Set aside a small area of your home as a sensory space. A sensory space is a quiet room with your child’s favorite toys or belongings where they can go when a meltdown is about to occur. It’s nice to have this room already set up in case packing boxes, relocating items or welcoming movers to the home makes your child feel overwhelmed.
A safe room can be as small as a corner closet or as large as an entire empty space. Fill your child’s safe space with a heavy or weighted blanket, a white noise appliance such as a fan or radio, and simple toys or books. When your child shows signs of aggression or resistance, or is in an active meltdown, quickly take him/her to this space to calm down.
If you are hiring professional movers as part of your relocation, let them know the basics of how to interact with your child. If your child will run out an open door, or doesn’t like to be touched or talked to by strangers, let the movers know. This way, movers in the home will know your child’s boundaries and will also know how to keep the home safe.
Arrange for Services
Your child with SPD will need developmental services in your new location. Arrange for a new speech, occupational or behavior therapist and pediatrician in your new location prior to moving, so your child can continue the therapies he or she is familiar with as soon as possible.
While moving with a special needs family member can make the transition a little more stressful, using tips for easier moving can make the adventure more successful. For all your moving needs, rely on our expert services at Island Movers. We will help relocate your family.