Immigrating to the United States: Tips for Families with Children on the Spectrum
When you are parenting a child with ASD, even simple changes to routine can be disruptive. Location and schedule changes may already be hard to handle, but immigrating to a new country can feel like an insurmountable challenge. If you plan to leave the Philippines to resettle in the United States soon, Jaden’s Voice offers the following guidance to help you along the way.
Help your family prepare to acclimate to a new culture
Children with ASD benefit from minimal disruption. Talk to your child calmly and clearly about what will be involved in the move and what they will experience in their new community.
- Help prepare your family, especially your child on the spectrum, for a language change. If possible, begin learning and using English well before you relocate.
- Transnational travel can be exhausting and unsettling. Talk to your child about how you will travel.
- Equip your child with comforting or familiar objects to take with them and help them get used to a new home.
- Different cultures have different modes of interaction. Prepare your child to encounter new customs in the United States, such as the smiles of strangers or potentially confusing verbal idioms.
Know what resources are available to help you
As you travel and when you arrive, it will be helpful to have access to resources and services for immigrant families and for children on the spectrum. Here are some of the organizations you may want to contact for assistance once you arrive.
- If you need help finding housing, there are programs that can help you.
- Education in the United States may be different from what you are used to in the Philippines. However, there are many resources available to assist parents of children with special needs.
- There is no public health option for childcare in the U.S., and parents of children with ASD may have to pay more for childcare. However, there are some programs that might be able to assist you.
Embrace community support
Removing yourself from a familiar community can leave one disoriented or isolated, and this can take a toll on the well-being of your child. Finding a place in your new community while maintaining ties back home is important for your family to flourish.
- Find ways to meet other families with kids on the spectrum in your new community through an organization like Jaden’s Voice. This could include sporting activities, arts and cultural events, and volunteering.
- Enlist your child to help prepare care packages or letters for family back home so they can feel involved with something special, and explain the importance of helping and supporting family.
- Navigating your new landscape will be a lot, but if you plan to financially support your family in the Philippines back home, you don’t need to make this another stressor. Use affordable and reputable money transfer services to send funds safely and securely. A service like Remitly can send money in a matter of hours, and you have the option to convert dollars to pesos.
- Stateside, look for community and social events, such as fiestas, that can specifically put you in touch with other families from the Philippines.
- Use social media and free video chat platforms to help your child connect with family and friends back home.
Moving to a new country is a life change that can be stressful for anyone. Families of children on the spectrum need all the help they can find. Get involved with organizations like Jaden’s Voice to ensure that your family is supported.
Amanda Henderson ⎸firstname.lastname@example.org