So many parents know that all too familiar trip for the kiddos haircut….the child may be nervous at first, but then they eventually get comfortable with the barber/hairdresser, take a few spins around in the chair, allow the cape to be put on and snip go the scissors. After all is said and done they get a lollipop as they skip out the door happily. But what if the child is autistic? Just the sensory issues alone are enough to cause a simple haircut to turn into quite a challenge.
Some angels on the spectrum may be fearful of the scissors, some perhaps can’t handle the sound or feel of the clippers, while others may have a complete meltdown at the mere site of the barber chair alone! I’m sure many parents try to put off the whole ordeal until they absolutely have to, but eventually the child will reach the point where they have to pull the hair into a ponytail (may work for a girl but not always for a boy)because their bangs are so long that they can longer see. No matter what, eventually they need a haircut or even a trim at the very least. So how do we as parents handle this event? Perhaps you could explain it to the child a few hours or even days prior, but this may not work for some. It may take some angels a few haircuts before they become comfortable and even some will never reach a comfort level at all. There are salons in some areas that are more of a kid friendly atmosphere: toys in the waiting area, special horse or racecar chairs and even a tv/dvd player where your child can watch his or her favorite movie. But even with all these comforts there are still some angels that just can’t come to terms with getting their haircut….my Blue Eyes just happens to be one of those few.
Trust me, I’ve gone through the times where I say how cute he looks with long wavy hair, I even commented how much he looked like a little surfer dude. But eventually the hair would hang in his eyes and he would actually be bothered by it. So I endure whatever it takes to help him through the process. Unfortunately he is non-verbal and although he understands quite a bit, I don’t find that explaining the process helps him (even with picture books). I take him to a kid friendly salon where they cater to special needs children too: He gets to have a lollipop before and after the cut, chooses a movie to watch from almost 100 titles ranging between Pixar to Nick Jr to classic Disney favorites, and many a unique chair to choose from. The staff are so wonderful and accommodating every time we go, that as difficult as some of the visits are, I would never consider going elsewhere. Being a mom of two autistic children, this butterfly knows to never go on any adventure without a backpack with anything we might need. The contents consist of such things as favorite toys, wipes, change of clothes, snacks, juice, pecs book, and even extra lollipops. But even with all the preparation and provisions alas I still have havoc with my Blue Eyes.
This past Monday I had to take him for his haircut again and compared to the last few times this trip was a doozy! I never go it alone and since the Daddy was at work that day one of the TSS staff accompanied me. He did not want to even go near a single chair they had, so if you can picture sitting on the floor playing monkey-in-the-middle, that was us. We tried every possible way to calm him while keeping him from scratching the hairdresser as she danced around us feverishly to cut his hair. God bless her cause she’s fast and she’s good! (she’s also known him for 8 of his 10 years!) The end result? His haircut looks great, he was a happy kid once it was over, but this Butterfly ended up with some battle wounds. Now I’ve been through a lot of aggressive times with him to know how to avoid a head-butt to my face or his painful pinches. This time Momma got bit…not once, but twice! The first wasn’t too bad when he bit my wrist bone, but when he caught me with a clamp down on my forearm I won’t deny the fact that I cried. I never take it personally, I know he loves me as much as I love him. The biting isn’t him trying to hurt me but merely one way he communicates his fear and anger. I continue to work on his appropriate communication whenever possible. So despite my bruised arm, I won’t give up …if there’s anything he’s taught me over the years, it’s to never give up! And he knows he can count on me for that.