[Editor’s note: Jillian Day created 508Assist.org to help people all across the web make their sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. She was inspired to start 508Assist.org when a close family member, who happens to have a visual impairment, had trouble finding a dinner recipe online that he could read easily. When she’s not chasing after her little ones, Jillian enjoys being outside, whether she’s fishing, hiking, or geocaching with her family.]
Moving is rarely ever fun for children. When you have a child with a disability, they may even be more reluctant to relocate for fear of the unknown. But sometimes, moving is a necessity. Here, Jillian Day of shares a few quick tips on how to make the transition as pleasant as possible for your entire family.
Accessibility Is Key
Accessibility is often a challenge for families with children who have special needs, particularly those who use walking devices a wheelchair. If you are planning to move out of state, make sure that you have an accessible place to stay while you tour potential new homes. Modern hotels must be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Boutique lodging or historic locations may not be wheelchair accessible. Alternatively, a vacation rental can be the ideal choice, particularly if you filter for one with accessibility features and other amenities that can make your stay more comfortable.
You also want to pay close attention to whether a potential home will be as easy to maneuver around in as your current one. Looking at homes on the internet gives you an opportunity to evaluate many aspects of the design, including whether or not the home is one-story and has a ground-floor entrance. Doing a 3D walk-through or looking at photos can also help you envision any modifications you might need to make, like widening the doorways or installing a wheelchair lift in the swimming pool.
Stress Less By Preparing Ahead Of Time
Even if you’ve purchased a home before, the process may have changed. While you might have previously taken out a low or no down payment loan, today lenders will often require anywhere from 3.5 to 20% down on any property. This will all depend on the type of loan you choose. Make sure that you have your money secure and ready so that you can move quickly when the right property arises. If you must sell your current home before investing in your next property, talk to your realtor about how to coordinate those two events without interfering with your child’s life.
Something else to consider here if you have a child with a sensory disorder is preparing yourself and your entire family for complications or meltdowns. Remind siblings that their brother or sister is not simply trying to get attention, but instead is overwhelmed and may not have the ability to self-regulate like everyone else. Moving is stressful, and they may have also experienced a sleep disruption, which A Sensory Life explains can also trigger a sensory meltdown. Make sure that your child has familiar objects handy and that they have a place to go to regain their sense of balance if they start to feel like they are spiraling.
More than just evaluating your next home, you also have to look at other needs unique to your special needs child. Two of the most pressing that should be addressed before the move are their healthcare and education. If you have yet to scout for a pediatrician, don’t delay. Pediatric Healthcare of Northwest Houston asserts that you must do your research. Confirm that your future pediatrician’s skills actually match your child’s needs. You also want to confirm that they are affiliated with a reputable hospital that is also fully equipped for your child’s care.
Research is also imperative when it’s time to choose the school. Although all students with disabilities have rights under IDEA and Section 504, not all schools are set up with a dedicated disability program. Contact the county in which you plan to move and ask to speak with their special education director. They can coordinate your child’s transition from their current school to their new academic setting.
There is no way of getting around all of the stress associated with moving. But, when you have a child with special needs, you can reduce some of the added strain by looking ahead. Start by making sure your new home will be accessible, and then get busy researching the best schools in your forthcoming district. It’s work, but soon everyone in your entourage will be settled into their new home.
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