autism, Parenting

Toddlers and haircuts. The struggle is real.

October 19, 2015

Haircuts have always been a mission, and as Jake has gotten older they have gotten worse.  When we got his Autism Spectrum diagnosis it made sense.   This most recent time I took him to 3 hairdressers who refused to touch him because he cried, I said to them he will cry, he doesn’t like strangers touching him so can you just do it – oh no no, ah well I will just take my business elsewhere.  Not before they give me parenting tips and act like its a problem created by me, even after trying to explain his Autism and hypersensitivity.    I just wanted them to hear me, and my pleas fell on deaf ears.

Many people who have autism also have hypersensitivities which can make haircuts uncomfortable and even painful. Besides disliking or feeling pain when someone, in our case -particularly if a stranger  is touching there heads.  Kids with autism may also have a hard time with the sounds of the salon, the smell of the salon and that dreaded electric razor.

Cue Screaming, yelling, crying, trying to get out of the chair, not wanting to get near the chair, trying to run out of the barber shop.  Jacob not me (ha) although I felt all of those feelings too.

I sat in the barber chair and held Jacob in one place while the barber cut his hair with scissors, Jake wouldn’t even let me put the cape around us – so inevitably we were covered in hair.  The was crying, snot, tears and people stared but we got it done.  It could have been worse.

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I figured out a few things that may help other Mamas who want there kid who is on the spectrum to get a haircut.

  • Wash and condition your child’s hair before the haircut. Clean hair is much easier to cut.
  • Think about what time of day your child is least overwhelmed.  Don’t take him if he’s in a pissy mood, reschedule for the following day.
  • Plan a favorite activity for after the haircut. Your child may be more likely to sit quietly through the haircut if he knows he is going to do something he enjoys when he is done.
  • Call the barber shop or salon ahead of time to talk with the person who will be cutting your child’s hair. Let him or her know your child has autism and provide some tips on how your child reacts to haircuts. Let him or her know what things may help keep your child calm.
  • During the haircut, observe your child to see what may be making him uncomfortable. Identifying possible triggers to meltdowns helps you take steps to reduce the potential problems during future haircuts.
  • Keep hairstyles simple to reduce the time needed to complete the haircut.

Remember to take long, deep breaths and try to be really patient.  Even though Jacob cried and wouldn’t sit by himself, I still showered him with praise – once the haircut was over, I let him know how great it looks.

Join in the conversation and share any tips you have for getting your toddler to have a haircut.

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