Welcome to AuSumness!
Autism isn't always awesome and sometimes it's difficult seeing the silver lining. As a matter of fact, everyday has challenges. One huge chore for us, that presented fiasco type scenarios, was getting a hair cut. Note the word was? Today, we'll present several ideas that may help your kids cope with getting a haircut.
This is Liam, getting his first, finished haircut. Thank goodness this kid has his father's hair and it took years for it to grown in enough to get a hair cut. Hehehe...We knew, for sure, that it was going to be one heck of a feat, to get this kid to sit in a chair, in a strange place, with strange people and a lot of noise with an unfamiliar person continuously touching him.
This wasn't our first attempt at getting him a hair cut. No, sir! This was the third. The first two were complete and utter failures with kicking screaming, crying and frazzled hair dressers and me swallowing my pride and explaining the whole Autism thing, again.
Here are some tips that may help you with this very difficult process:
I prepped him by explaining what is was we were going to do. He had never had a hair cut nor seen anyone getting a hair cut. So, he had no idea what to expect. Try to explain, show a video or TV show dealing with getting a hair cut. Then bring an arsenal of goodies and your patient hat.
I looked all over for a place that would have distractive types of tools, like the chair with steering wheel you see here. It didn't help at all. I brought books, snacks, drinks, toys, everything I could think of that might help the situation.
Prep the hairdresser! There may even be a professional hair cutter who deals especially with this. What would be ideal, is getting someone the child knows and likes, to do it. We found a teacher at the boys special school, who cut hair and came to our house. This helped us a lot. As did giving them a lolly pop. (Another aside tip: monitor how often you give candy as reward. Do NOT use candy excessively or it won't work. It's also not ideal to give sugary sweets in the first place. So save the sweets for extra special occasions.)
The longest we could get either kid to sit was at home, with someone they knew, in front of the TV, with a lolly. Holy cow, right? If you don't want to leave a salon with half of a cut and a terrible meltdown, you have to take these kinds of desperate measures.
This next tip may seem a bit...odd, but getting a cute hair stylist really worked for both of boys. Not so oddly, they preferred friendly, soft spoken blondes. Look at this kid smiling WHILST getting a haircut. Only a cute blond has this kind of power! Hehehe...The power of beauty works at such a young age.
Both boys did flip when they saw the Smurf, though. They hate the Smurfs. If you're really thorough, you may want to scope the place for any potential meltdown cues.
A stick behind the door is always another method that works fairly well for our kids, but it's another trick you don't want to use too, often. For instance, I'll let you play an extra 15 minutes of games or when we are finished at the stylists, we'll go and get an ice-cream.
Awe, look at that fresh haircut!
If you do find a place that works, stay with it. Routine is ideal for most kids with Autism. Another thought to consider is, how important is my kid's hair. In a previous blog, I wrote about choosing what fish to fry. Meaning, choose your battles and be realistic about what is REALLY important.
My oldest does not want a haircut. He never wants one. He likes long hair. My husband, though once a long haired blonde, does not like this, but I convinced him that it is SO NOT IMPORTANT. In this crazy, sometimes out of control world of Autism, hair is the least of our worries. Allowing your children to have the kind of hair they want is a great opportunity for expression as well as giving them something they can control, which IS really important. It will help create a bond between you as well.
We made a deal with Liam that he could have long hair if he promised to keep it very clean, neat and to get trims twice a year.
I hope I didn't totally freak you out by sharing our not so great experiences with getting a hair cut. It could be totally different for you and your kids. On a positive note, getting hair cuts is no longer a problem.
If you have any tips or funny stories, share them in the comments.
Thanks so much for stopping by! See ya next Monday with more awesomeness.