The decision to move, whether across town or across the country, can be a stressful and even
chaotic time. For a family with a special needs child, it can be particularly stressful as you
determine how to make sure your child receives all the necessary resources to thrive and grow
no matter where they are. However, there are a few factors to consider when moving.
Find a Group
Moving to a new place means unfamiliar faces, so it may be beneficial to both you and your
child to identify special needs parent support groups in the new area ahead of time to make the
transition a little bit smoother. Consider searching for groups organized around your child’s
particular disability, as well as groups that bring parents together regardless of the disability and
instead focus on general concerns such as special education or coping. According to Family
“Much of the information that will be helpful to you is in the hands, heads, and hearts of other parents like yourself.”
Support groups are also a great tool for insider information, such as the best schools, daycare
programs, or the best place to buy specialized equipment. When searching for a support group,
the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) suggests starting with your state’s
Parent Training and Information (PTI) program. Each state has at least one PTI program, and
they are also a great resource for information about disabilities, special education, and
strategies for being an effective child advocate. Some states also have a Community Parent
Resource Center (CPRC), which are funded to serve areas with high need. To locate your PTI
or CPRC, use the CPIR tool.
Be Close to Caregivers/Support
When it comes to caring for a child with special needs, it is important to have a support system
in place for those times when life happens and you need a little extra assistance. For special
needs parent Louise Bruce, she found that having a “second pair of hands” was beneficial.
Bruce has three children, two of which have cerebral palsy, so she found that having a caregiver
in place helped, especially at the end of the day when she found herself exhausted and
Having a caregiver can not only relieve a little bit of stress, but it can be helpful for those parents
who work and need care for their child when they can’t be there. According to Prosper Home
Care, caregivers are trained to care for children who need assistance, whether it is the result of
a medical or behavioral condition, with their main responsibility being to meet the medical,
personal, and emotional needs of the child. Examples of caregiver duties could include
engaging your child in mental exercises and games, assistance with mobility, providing meals,
offering companionship, or even helping out with household tasks. You may find that you don’t
need the permanent help of a caregiver, but having one just in case can be helpful, especially
with obstacles and stress that crop up unexpectedly when making a move.
New State Laws/Regulations
If you are moving to a new state, the CPIR suggests learning about your new state’s laws and
regulations. If your child is an infant or toddler, you will need to get in touch with the lead agency
for early intervention programs. This may be the Department of Education or the Department of
Health or Human Resources. If you child is school-aged, you will need to get in touch with the
State Department of Education. To find the appropriate contact, use the tools provided on the
ECTA or NASDSE website. There are several resources to tap into to make the move with your
special needs child smoother, and being prepared ahead of time is a great place to start.
*Jenny Wise homeschools four children, and hopes to connect with other homeschoolers, especially educators and parents of special needs children.