Appointment Success :: Strategies for a Happy Experience


We learned to create “happy visits” with our son Emmett before a haircut and it carried over into different aspects of our life. What is a happy visit you might ask? I am excited to share with you what makes them so wonderful.

create a happy appointment for special needs kids
Image courtesy of Nicolesy for Canva Pro

A happy visit is when you go into a business or a place that your child has never been before to do a walk around. The objective is to let them see that this is a fun place. It is not scary; nothing bad is going to happen to me here. A pre-visit of this nature allows them to remember on their next visit that the surroundings are a bit familiar and the people are not exactly new.

How to plan your happy visit

Emmett has a hard time transitioning into different places and environments that are new and unfamiliar to him. Remember that every child is different in what they will tolerate and how long. Some businesses may or may not be accommodating. The best way to find out is always to call or email first.

One of the more difficult experiences for him is getting his haircut. To make things easier, I call ahead of time to talk to the manager on the phone or via email. I let them know I am coming with my special-needs child, and I would like to do a happy visit. I ask which stylists are available and comfortable working with us. We have found two amazing women who cut his hair and we bounce between the two of them. Sometimes they tag team even which keeps him occupied and distracted.

Executing the visit

Once the appointment has been made, I will tell Emmett as we are going, we are going to meet some friends and then get a treat.  I try to refer to them by name whenever possible. When he is inside, they greet him on his level. The service providers will talk to your child and ask you questions about their likes and dislikes.  Sometimes this is done in advance so they can be prepared.

We learned that Emmett does not like being sprayed with water nor does he like the vibration of clippers. He prefers to roam around and not be restrained. They get to know your child and your child is usually free to roam around and explore the place, so it is not so scary and unfamiliar sounds and sights. Allowing for the different sensory needs to be met provides for a calmer child.  He was laughing and having fun on this visit compared to unpleasant experiences before that left him crying and a little scared.

Who needs a happy visit?

We have done this with hair salons, dentist offices, and medical places. Some of these let you do it so they can get to know your child and your child can get to know them. This cuts down on the trauma that is sometimes experienced.

Keep in mind that being relaxed is always best and as I always say, forewarned is forearmed. Any extra information you want to get your service providers ahead of time is good because they can prepare. Some places have toys that they know your child will like, and if they are able some offices arrange for a visit when there are no other children.

All in all, happy visits make all of us very happy.



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