What To Plan For When Moving With A Special Needs Child

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Moving your family to another home can be a daunting task; there are so many things to think about that even the most organized person can have a hard time when it comes to packing, hauling, and getting everything ready at the new place. Having a special needs child means you may have a different set of challenges and preparations, so it’s important to sit down, make a list, and talk with your family about the entire process to make the transition a bit easier.

Although it’s hard to know what to expect with any move--you can almost count on having at least one complication, it’s just a matter of when it will pop up--there are several things you can do to make things go smoothly for you and your child. Here are some of the best ways to start the journey.

Finding a home

For many families, the location of a new home is more dependent upon its proximity to a hospital or school than anything else. Looking for an established home in a particular neighborhood can be tricky. And navigating the real estate market while doing so can be even trickier. For example, you’ll hear real estate terms like escrow, contingent, and pending that you may not be very familiar with. Don’t let them scare you away from a property you like. No matter what stage a sell is in, you can always make an offer.

School and community

If your child is school-age, it’s a great idea to check out the school districts around the new house to find out what sort of classes are offered and whether the district has an open enrollment policy or if your child will be required to go to a particular school. If possible, take a trip to the potential schools and ask for a tour. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and once you find the right place, talk with your child’s teacher to find out expectations and to let them know exactly what your child needs. While you’re there, find out what the policy is for enrollment, because all schools require different paperwork and there will likely be quite a bit of it.

If your child needs vaccinations, it’s a good idea to have them done before the move so your child can be with a familiar doctor. Be sure to get any letters from your caregiver that you might need for the trip which explain your child’s condition and possible reactions to medications.

It’s also a good idea to hop online and check out resources for your child in the new neighborhood. There may be a local chapter of Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts, sports leagues and Special Olympics, or parent groups you can join that will make finding friends a bit easier. Reaching out to the community can also come in handy when you’re looking for a babysitter down the line.


Talk to your family about the moving process and give details about exactly what will happen. Will you be in a hotel or apartment for a bit before getting settled into the new place? Share photos of the place you’ll be staying in and really talk it up. If your child sees that you’re excited about it, chances are he’ll be, too. Talk about the actual move and let your child know that you’ll be bringing all his things--the bed, stuffed animals, and toys--to the new home. The concept of moving can be a difficult one for a child to grasp, and sometimes they just need to be reassured.

Packing and unpacking

Sometimes it can be helpful to allow a child to help pack their own things so they can have an understanding of the process. Save toys and comfort items for last. If you’ll be staying in a hotel or making other arrangements before going to the new house, let your child help you pack their suitcase. It’s generally a good idea to pack at least one or two extra outfits in case something throws a wrench into your plans.

If a moving company will be helping out, let the movers know that you have a child with special needs. Let them know specifically what not to do, such as stack boxes higher than three feet or leave doors/windows open. It may be a good idea to ask for help from a trusted friend or family member who can help out on moving day.

Keep in mind that the move may be difficult for your child in other ways; sleeping in a strange place may be hard for a little while, so consider placing a nightlight in bedrooms and bathrooms and give your child a tour of the home as soon as you arrive and again once everything is unpacked so they’ll know exactly where to find everything and everyone.

Aimee Lyons is a twenty-something free spirit who loves crafting, painting, building, and anything else that lets her exercise her creative muscles. A born do-it-yourself kind of girl, she started DIYDarlin.com to inspire others to embrace their inner creators and tackle projects with confidence. When she isn’t crafting, you might find her vintage shopping or taking her Corgi Champ out exploring in her hometown of Austin, Texas.

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