Adults with Asperger’s – 6 Tips for Moving
Adults with Asperger’s have their own particular brand of challenges that they must work with.
For better or for worse, your adult loved one’s coping techniques have already been ingrained in them and it is hard to change their minds.
But there are times when they could really use the helping hand of a strong advocate, you!
Major life transitions, like moving, can be particularly tricky for adults with Asperger’s.
Adults with Asperger’s – Tips to Make Moving Easier
1. Make Plans and To-do Lists
Most people are overwhelmed by moving, but the adult with Asperger’s or high functioning autism may be more overwhelmed than most. There are so many details to attend to!
Help your loved one make lists of things that need to be done and help them make plans of how they will get the things done. Offer as much practical help as possible.
Here is a simple moving checklist:
_ Get boxes to put things in
_ Schedule a moving truck
_ Round up friends to help move (They will need advance notice so they can make time to help)
_ Purchase items for new place (Things like shower curtains, light bulbs, cleaning supplies, etc.)
2. Start Ahead of Time
Even if you only have a few things, it always takes longer to move than you think it will.
It’s a good idea to have all the things done on the moving checklist AT LEAST several days or more in advance of the actual move day.
If possible, don’t leave too much time in between “everything’s packed” and “moving day” because all of that nervous anticipation will make most adults with Asperger’s very anxious!
3. Make the New Place Feel Like Home
Adults with Asperger’s are very attuned to their environment. They need their environment to be an unchanging, predictable, comfortable place to compensate for the ever-changing nature of the world outside its walls.
When moving into any new place, no matter how nice it may look, it’s not going to feel like home until it has a few personal touches.
Therefore, do not leave your loved one alone until you have helped them unpack some of their personal items to decorate the area.
Where are their books? Where is the favorite teddy bear? What about the tapestry or poster for the walls? It will be much easier to relax in a place that feels like home.
4. Take a Break
As soon as the unpacking is done go do something fun to take your loved one’s mind off the impending change.
As a general rule adults with Asperger’s need to be exposed to new things in stages.
So, after you have spent the day moving it is time for a break. Take your loved one to a relaxing environment so that they can relax and not think about all the newness for a few hours.
This should be something familiar that they enjoy. Maybe is way, by the time they get back they will have more energy for coping with all the new things.
5. Keeping Busy and Routines
There are very few things that make adults with Asperger’s panic more than not having a routine of some sort.
So often a very predominant feeling in someone with Asperger’s or high functioning autism is the need to feel anchored to something. Routines are something that they can feel anchored to.
If your loved one is attending school or going to work make sure they know how to get there from the new place.
This may involve figuring out a new bus schedule, showing them a new route to drive, or whatever the new arrangement will be. Write it down on a piece of paper, write a visual schedule, or take the route with them a few times until they get the hang of it.
If they are not currently going to school, employed, or pursuing some other type of goal, think of a way to get them involved in some sort of activity. Maybe it is a hobby, some type of volunteering, something that gets them outside of the house for part of the day.
Adults with Asperger’s are prone to anxiety and while they need a lot of alone time, they also need to be out of their heads focusing on something else for some of the day. If not their emotions and confusion of the new place and life in general can be a bit overwhelming.
6. Be Aware of Becoming Overwhelmed
Be on alert for signs of overwhelm in your loved one. Adults with Asperger’s will often get overwhelmed by small things and try to cocoon themselves in with what is familiar.
For example, say not everything was finished in one day of moving. Maybe there is still a TV or a dresser or some other item that still needs to be moved another day. Your loved one may refuse or be non-committal about all attempts to finish the move, even though obviously it makes sense and needs to be done.
This may be because they are feeling overwhelmed with all the changes going on in their life. They can’t stand the idea of one more task being added in. It is kind of “the straw that broke the camel’s back” scenario.
Sometimes, the smallest thing, something you can’t even imagine would be a problem, will end up seeming too overwhelming to an adult with Asperger’s who’s already at their wit’s end with change.
“How will we get the dresser up the stairs?”
“There is not enough space in the bedroom for the dresser.”
“Where will the TV go?”
“I can’t put the TV in my desired spot because the power cord is too short.”
In those times when your loved one is overwhelmed they will most likely be very grateful if you take care of the tasks at hand for them.
Change is part of life and certain stresses sometimes come along with it. Moving is a big change and can be quite stressful. Having a plan and being familiar with one’s needs can greatly help to smooth the process. The tips in this article can help your adult with Asperger’s greatly the next time they are moving.
For more great information for your adult loved one on the autism spectrum read my book, Thriving in Adulthood with Asperger’s Syndrome.