It’s hard to uproot a family, and when you are a military family you have to do it a lot. This is not easy when you have family members with special needs. A lot of things have to be prepared, organized, and put in place long before you get to your new location.
Related Reading: Colorado Springs Relocation Guide
Even though this list is written for military families, I am sure some of these suggestions sound familiar to civilian families with special needs kids as well:
- First and foremost: Did you get an appropriate [military] assignment? Advocating parents make sure that the new duty station is equipped to deal with the child’s special needs. What is or isn’t available? The military tries to make sure that everything you need is available through their Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), but it’s better to double check.
- There are seemingly endless hours spent on the internet to research in order to make sure that the family is well informed about the best school districts, programs, and accommodating communities for the child.
- The parents are meeting with the releasing school, teachers, and professionals in order to determine what can be done to ensure that needed services commence without an hitch in the new location.
- Parents are requesting copies of their child’s educational records, held in any form and in any location, including special education files. These copies need to be hand-carried to the new duty station.
- I have seen parents prepare the child with special needs for the upcoming move with pictures of the new house and the new environment. Some might even have made a picture book to prepare the family member emotionally for the move.
- If the family member has special medical needs, parents often visit with physicians before moving. They are getting recommendations from him/her, and ensure that there will be at least a one-month supply of the childs medications on hand.
- Linking with the releasing EFMP office, as well as contacting the relocation office and other support groups, to get information and to help formulate the questions to ask. Facebook groups or local associations are valuable sources of information and a great place to start.
- A lot of parents contact the receiving EFMP/relocation office to touch base and to let them know they will be arriving, and what their families needs are. The office may be able to provide contacts, or information to help you in your transition.
- Maybe respite care, or specialized day care, is needed while the parents search for/move into housing? The EFMP Office can perhaps help with that, or direct you to someone who can. Many installations have transitioned to privatized housing. This may cause challenges in your receipt of SSI or in how housing needs are met, however, on the bright side you might be able to get into on post/base housing quicker.
Let it be known that I am in awe of what parents of special needs children are doing for their kids, and I know that there is so much more that these parents do and sacrifice than the few things that I have mentioned here. If you have more suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comment section.
It seems, that there is nothing that parents/guardians of children with special needs can’t do. They are tough, and they are “All Stars” in my eyes!
Related Reading: Buying a House Sight Unseen