FCARI: Tips for Helping Children on the Autism Spectrum Adjust to a Move

When you have children on the autism spectrum, every aspect of your life is affected. Stability and routine are often the keys to keeping them safe and happy, as is prioritizing them by creating experiences together and letting them help with chores around the house. Moving to a new home poses a unique challenge. Every step of the process must take your children's special needs into consideration – which is much easier if you follow these tips from the Family Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island.

Research Homes

Children on the autism spectrum often need detailed information to thrive, so the first step is gathering data about homes in your target area. Search listings to compare prices and interview several realtors to find the one who understands your needs. Research the surrounding neighborhoods to ensure they have the schools, therapy, and medical services your children require. Also, if a house has more space than you need, remember that an apartment is an option, too.

When you are selecting a home, keep in mind the changes you may need to make for your kids. For example, if you have a child who tends to wander off, reaching out to the Security Garage Door, Gate, and Fence to install an entry gate that blocks the path to the street may be necessary. According to autism experts at the Autism Society, there are many modifications you can make to address the unique sensory needs of your children.

Prepare Your Child

Once you have your plans in place, discuss them with your children. Younger kids can adjust to the news with a few weeks' notice, but teens may need to know months in advance, particularly if it is a long-distance move. Explain the timeline of the move, using visual schedules for clarity when appropriate. Give them time to ask questions and detail the specific tasks they will be responsible for throughout each phase of the process.

Maintain Order

Moving is often chaotic, but an uncertain environment isn't likely to work well for children on the autism spectrum. One of the biggest challenges you may face is accommodating their needs while packing for the move. To minimize stress, keep your home as free of clutter as possible. Ideally, most of the packing can be done in one day to lessen the disruption. If this is not feasible, designate clear spaces for different locations where packed boxes will be out of the way.

Professional cleaners can help you maintain a clean, clutter-free home. Spills are more frequent during moves, and an experienced upholstery cleaner can salvage your furniture quickly so that your children don't get overwhelmed by the mess. After comparing prices, reading reviews, and consulting former customers for specific feedback, you can meet with your top candidates to choose the cleaner you want. Avoid hiring cleaners who use all-in-one tools—you may not get the deep wash you need.

Clarify Moving Day Schedule

The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community notes that there are a lot of transitions on moving day, and they can be a challenge for children on the autism spectrum to navigate. Review the day's schedule first thing in the morning so that it is fresh on their minds. If they have their own specific tasks to complete throughout the process, it will probably go more smoothly.

Once you arrive at your new home, give your children time to adjust. Introduce them to each new space, both inside and outside. If they still have the energy to do so, take a family walk around the neighborhood after the basic things in their room are set up.

Moving can be tumultuous under the best circumstances. If you have children on the autism spectrum, there are other factors you have to consider. By planning ahead and keeping your children informed, you can make the move as calm as possible for them.

The Family Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island advocates for and provides resources to meet the needs of caregivers who are providing long-term in-home care for family and friends, including children and youth with special needs, adults with disabilities, and the elderly. Connect with us today to find out more! 

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Summer energy bill assistance is available

The Westerly Sun

The Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund is open to all eligible Rhode Island households experiencing financial difficulty and [needing] assistance with energy expenses, even in the summer. The fund is sponsored by Rhode Island Energy, Block Island Utility District, Ocean State Power, Pascoag Utility District, Petro Home Services and RISEC LP and administered by United Way of Rhode Island.


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CORTNEY NICOLATO is the CEO and president of the United Way of Rhode Island. As of Monday afternoon, this year's 401Gives Day raised $3.09 million, breaking last year’s record total by close to a million dollars. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

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Lori DiMatteo, coordinator of volunteer engagement for United Way of Rhode Island, stands next to Jocelynn White, executive director of Books Are Wings, in front of a backdrop with United Way's logo in a repeating pattern. Pete Cardi stands in a Cardi's Furniture & Mattresses store. All three participants joined The Rhode Home virtually to talk about the upcoming Children's Book Drive starting in April, hosted by United Way, Women United, and Books Are Wings.

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FCARI: A Guide to Senior Storage

Moving into a new home is always a challenge. For seniors, there's more to consider beforehand. The transition into smaller homes or senior living arrangements often leads to a need to store a houseful of furniture and a lifetime's worth of keepsakes. Here are some of the things you should look for when choosing a storage facility for seniors:

  • Flexible pricing, or even a veteran's discount, can be helpful for seniors moving on a budget. Flexibility is important as seniors may move items out of storage once they settled in their new homes. The option for a monthly rental instead of a fixed-term lease is also recommended.
  • Valet service, free or discounted truck delivery will make the move easier

What are the warning sights to watch out for?

  • Rigid pricing or unit policies that impose a one-size-fits-all approach to senior storage
  • Long-term lease requirements that force seniors to rent more space than they're likely to need in the near future
  • Inadequate security at the site, given the cash value of expensive items and heirlooms that are being stored
  • Restricted access or bad site layouts, which can make it difficult for movers to get close to the unit when moving bulky items such as couches
  • Poorly sealed units that are not ventilated or climate-managed, which can expose irreplaceable items to moisture, mold and other hazards
  • Puddles of water inside public areas of the building, which indicate that leaks might be present within the units themselves.

You can learn more about finding the best storage options for your needs here.

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Planned to be the state’s premier youth and family career exploration and workforce development event, United Way of Rhode Island will host its first annual Power The Future on Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The empowering day is open to all local students and their families, at no cost.

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On Aug. 19, 2023, at the Rhode Island Convention Center, the area’s premier youth and family workforce development and career awareness event will be brought to you by United Way of Rhode Island. It’s called Power The Future. Power The Future will be an annual empowerment event aligned with the 2030 plan of raising incomes, […]