By the time that Esther was 26 months old, we had moved house twice, and stayed at 6 different places during the month between homes #1 and #2.

Moving house frequently is certainly not a lifestyle choice I would recommend for children.

However, sometimes it is necessary, and so here are a few tips we learned from our experience of moving with a special needs child.

The main issue with moving a considerable distance is connecting with the correct medical people once you arrive.

When we moved 2,600 miles (4,200 km) away, we made an appointment with the Perinatal Follow-Up Team there before leaving, having been informed that this was who she needed to see.

However, on arrival, we were told that in this province, the team only follows babies actually born in their area (a different practice to that of our home province).

We were referred to the correct people, made more calls and more appointments, but all this took time.

We waited almost 5 months before Esther got started on physiotherapy and occupational therapy again.

I would recommend calling ahead of time and finding out the correct procedure for care in your child’s specific situation, so that they do not have to lose valuable time of therapy and medical help.

The other main issue we encountered was replacing equipment that had been on loan from previous therapists.

Specifically, in our case, a feeder seat for Esther.

Due to the delay in getting seen by the physical therapist and prescribing doctor, it was well over a year before Esther had a seat for mealtimes.

Since my husband was a full-time student and I a stay-at-home mom, funding a seat ourselves was simply not an option.

Again, in hindsight, I should have checked that we had been referred to the correct people myself.

Don’t, like me, assume that all medical personnel know the systems in other communities.

Prior to the trip, Esther had been getting too big for her little “bucket” car seat, so we invested in the bigger size for the trip.

This was a big hit, and I would definitely recommend making sure your child is as comfortable as possible in the vehicle.

Special Needs Equipment

Esther was only fussy once in over two weeks of travelling, when the temperatures were over 30° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit), and neither the AC nor the windows were cool.

During such times, the planned schedule is better put aside to incorporate a break somewhere with air conditioning so you can readjust your body temperature and get on the road again, in comfort.

Esther was bottle feeding when we made this journey, but having previously made long car journeys while she was fed by NG (nasogastric) tube, the best tip we have is to buy (or rent) a feeding pump – even just for the trip – if you do not already have one.

While moving or travelling, try and do familiar activities with your children.

For us, it was walking with Esther’s stroller, something we had done for miles at our old home, that made us both feel more settled in our new community.

New excitement can be fun for holidays and days out, but young children like to do the same things “again” and “again” (and “again”!!).

Find a park with play things they recognise.

Fill their space in the house with their favourite toys and pictures.

Any child is expected to have sleep issues in their new home, and in a child with special needs, like Esther, this is going to be more severe.

Again, familiarity is the key: bring their favourite blankets and soft toys, and story books.

Most importantly, children need reassurance.

Spend as much time with them as possible, and show them that there are some things that do not have to change.

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