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Girl leaving for college

Navigating College with Autism

More than ever before, higher numbers of teens with Autism are attending college.  Reasons for this increase are related to enhanced recognition of the condition (and therefore diagnosis) as well as greater access to early intervention services which we know creates better outcomes later in life.  Autism or not, the transition to college can be challenging.  Leaving home for the first time and adjusting to a completely new environment is nothing short of overwhelming.  Despite the expected challenges, students with Autism are finding success in college and beyond, with just a little extra attention to their needs.

The following tips will help this transition:

  1. Girl leaving for collegeWhen selecting a university, it is important to consider a number of criteria about the university itself, including: campus living options (single room or double), campus and student population size, class size, community supports, technology, transportation, and learning center resources.  Schedule a visit to see the campus and get your questions answered.  The right fit between a student and school can make all the difference.
  2. Develop life skills needed to live on campus: reading maps and navigating directions, accessing public transportation, managing money, doing laundry, organizing time, and making or purchasing healthy meals.
  3. Work with a tutor to help create a good study schedule and habits.
  4. Work with a counselor to help manage anxieties and depression, to provide encouragement in building social supports, and assistance in maintaining a balanced, healthy, and fun lifestyle.
  5. Know yourself and how to self-advocate.   For example, request that bright lights in your room be replaced, wear headphones to block out noise, avoid larger-class sizes, and do not overwhelm yourself with an excessively rigorous schedule.
  6. Ask for help.  Do not be afraid to reach out in times of need.  Rather, know your supports and use them.

Up Up and Move Away with Kids!

Moving is already a stressful process without adding children into the equation.family moving day

Here is a list of life-saving tips that may help to ease both you and your children throughout the transition!

  • Before the move, start preparing the children by showing them books about moving to a new home. Show them pictures of the new city, the schools, the playground, the pool, etc. You should also discuss any feelings that the children may have regarding the move.
  • The day before the move, make sure the children have enough sleep.  Tired children will make the moving experience much more difficult for the entire family.
  • During the day of the move, have a backpack ready for each child that includes music, books, activities and additional batteries to keep them busy throughout the day.  Remember to pack snacks as well as the day will become quite busy. Hungry kids =cranky kids
  • Take a log of pictures of the entire experience, from packing and moving days to the first few weeks og living in the new house.  Make the experience very exciting!
  • Once you arrive at your new home, remember the needs of your children. You are bound to encounter issues that will most likely exhaust you. Consider hiring a babysitter for the first few days of the transition. An extra adult to have around will be able to give your children the attention they need while you are packing and unpacking.
  • Plan to take a day off from everything once you are finished with the move. This will allow the family to reconnect and recharge.

If your child is in therapy, ask your therapists for home program information so that you may continue the therapy on a daily basis.

Enjoy your new home!

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Summer is Moving Time: How To Make Moving Easier For Your Children

Family On Moving Day With BoxesSummer is a big transition time for many families and moving is often at the top of the list. There is always trepidation about moving, especially when you have children. It does not matter if you are moving across town, to another city or to another part of the world; it can all be very stressful. I personally have moved my family seven times since my husband is a Navy Chaplain and these are some tricks I have learned to make moving an easier experience for your child.

Tips for Making A Move Easier On Your Child

  •  Try not to make any big changes during the transition– don’t work on cessation of thumb sucking, potty training, or change sleeping habits. Try to keep everything status quo if you can.
  • Focus on pre- packing rooms that the children do not use much. Plan on having
    their rooms packed last so they feel somewhat protected from the chaos.
  • It helps to have a “safe” suitcase of special possessions that your child wants to take along on the move. It can include pictures, stuffed animals, and clothes, but whatever is in that suitcase will stay near your child and is not packed in a box to be sent on the moving truck.
  • Plan on having a trusted friend, relative or neighbor keep children during the actual pack out day so they are not in the “frenzy” of moving day. It is difficult for children to see strangers in the house putting everything into boxes. You will also have a much better and focused moving day experience if you do not have to do tasks such as preparing food etc. and split your attention between your children’s daily needs and the moving tasks at hand.
  • If you have hired packers, make the request to have them leave by to 7-8pm. Once they leave you will be able to resume some normal evening activities and the children will have a sense of privacy and some processing time before bed. Stick with their normal routine as much as possible and normal bedtime so you can have a few minutes at the end of the day as well.
  • For our moves, I stashed little gifts in their “safe suitcase” so they could open them when we got to our destination or as we traveled. They looked forward each day to the gift they could open. I also kept a calendar handy that had pictures drawn on it so they could keep track of the days and how we might get to our destination.
  • Keep a picture of the house you are leaving and the place you are moving posted so they can see where they are going. When appropriate, talk about how things will be when they get there. What will your room look like? Will you be sharing a room now or be alone? What will you see from your window?
  • It also helps to use the preprinted books about moving so kids can talk about their feelings. You might be surprised how they open up and share what they are thinking and feeling. It is good to discover and dispel any bad feelings as they come up.

In all things try to stay calm because your children will draw from your strength and attitude and they will watch how you handle the changes. The whole moving process will be much better with a little planning and preparation!

Have you experienced a move with children? Please share any stories, tips or tricks! Leave a comment below.