Jenny Wise |

Moving is a big life event that can be stressful, especially if you have an autistic child who struggles with change. There are ways, however, to minimize the disruption and anxiety that come with house hunting and moving. Preplanning and preparation are key! A knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent, such as Heidi Stenson, Realty Ink, MI Homes by Heidi, can also be an incredible asset. 

How Much Can You Afford?

Determining your housing budget is the first step in the house-shopping process. A qualified lending agent or loan officer can help evaluate your debt-to-income ratio, your credit score, and your cash reserves available for a down payment and closing costs. If you’re selling a home, you’ll also want to have a good idea about its value, so you can factor proceeds into your new housing budget (houses in Plymouth, for example, sell for $270K on average). An appraiser can help you determine the value of your home in comparison to other similar properties nearby. Online search tools make it easy to browse price ranges by zip code, neighborhood, or housing development.

Where To Move?

There are a number of factors to keep in mind when you’re searching for a home that’s a good fit for your family. When you have a child with special needs, there are other considerations to be mindful of. For example, if you’re moving locally, you’ll want to ensure you’re looking at neighborhoods that are in close proximity to your child’s school, care providers, and extracurricular activities. If you’re relocating, you’ll need to conduct research into schools and neighborhoods electronically, or with the help of a real estate professional. This is especially important if you’re moving to an unfamiliar area. A good agent can help you get established and access all of the resources your family needs.

What To Look For

The home you chose should be a good fit for your entire family. If your autistic child has sensory issues or tends to wander, you’ll want to choose a setting away from busy intersections that could pose a hazard, or be overwhelming from a noise perspective. Inside, you may want a bedroom that’s somewhat insulated, to reduce external ambient sounds. Soft lighting and calming muted colors can be helpful. If your child thrives on familiarity, you’ll want to think ahead about how to best replicate his or her room as closely as possible to make for a smooth transition when you move. Some kids will do better being part of the move, others are better off staying elsewhere. Make the decision that’s best for your family’s unique needs. 

Getting Prepared

Start preparing your child for the move in advance by showing photos and talking about the move in positive terms. According to Autism Speaks, if possible, you’ll want to ensure your child’s room is the last thing packed and the first thing unpacked and set up in your new location. If the move itself feels like an overload, ask a trusted friend or family member to stay with your child or otherwise occupy them during the actual move day. Healthline says if that’s not possible, plan to take it slowly, and create a safe, quiet space in the chaos where your child can retreat if he or she becomes overwhelmed or begins stemming. Allow them to keep their favorite snacks and possessions with them during the transition.

If you’re looking for a new house in the Plymouth, MI area, Realty Ink, Homes by Heidi can be an invaluable asset for helping you find the perfect home. Call Heidi Stenson at (248) 330-5706 or reach out via email.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.