Know House Rules before You Travel

Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families

Travel during the holidays can be a large part of family traditions.  If you have a child with special needs, going to visit the relatives can mean an interruption in your normal family schedule, which can be especially challenging for kids to process.  One way to help your child is to understand the house rules of the home you are visiting before you even go.  This will give you a chance to practice before you pack your bags.  Here are three examples of house rules that will spur your thinking about what to ask your hostess:

  1. Shoes on or off inside?  The idea of removing your shoes may be no big deal for most family members, but for kids who are especially sensitive to changes in routine, wearing or not wearing shoes can be a difficult challenge.  Ask your hostess if they have a preference and explain why you are asking.  This will immediately open the lines of communication between you and your family members about your child.
  1. Are children excused during dinner?  While some families have no problem with kids coming and going from the dinner table, other families prefer that everyone stay seated during the meal.  Depending on your child, you can discuss your hostess’ preferences and see how they may work for your family.  Deciding this ahead of time will give your hostess a chance to made adjustments if necessary.
  1. Types of play?  While some households are happy with contact sports and others focus on quiet afternoons playing games or reading, knowing what the traditions are in your family are key before you visit.  This will help you to determine how your child’s personal style will fit in with the family and will help you decide what to bring.

Knowing the house rules before you travel will give your family the best opportunity to enjoy the holiday.  Opening up lines of communication with your hostess is a great way for everyone to have a fun Thanksgiving – including your child with special needs.