Today, I finally took Jude to the barbers for a well needed hair cut. He has incredibly thick hair which grows outwards if left uncontrolled and we had got to the point where he was starting to look like he was permanently wearing a helmet.
I’m not going to lie, my usually confident stride towards the barbers was challenged by Jude’s reticence towards the suggestion of a haircut, or even of leaving the house…this was his pitiful face walking down the road.
For some reason he despises walking anywhere at the moment but after I convinced him we were not walking “all the way” into town and merely down the hill (literally 200 metres) to our usual place, he seemed a bit more content and chatty.
We arrived and there were two men waiting in the queue ahead of us. I instinctively wavered, considering abandoning ship and detouring via the bakery back to the safety of home but NO, I thought. This boy looks ridiculous, we’ll wait! Even when Jude started a random little dance slap bang in the middle of the room with full on hand waves and butt wiggles, I stood fast and continued with the mantra of “he can’t look this ridiculous any more, he can’t look this ridiculous any more.”
We amused ourselves by taking pictures and discussing what we’re going to have for lunch and dinner about thirty five times. Then the owner of the shop changed the TV channel to CBeebies which is a lovely thing to do however, Jude decided to entertain his crowd by singing along to each theme tune and gave a particularly strong and dramatic rendition of “Justin’s House.” Honestly, if people weren’t watching us enough already, they certainly were now!
Finally, finally it was our turn and we had our usual guy take Jude on. Poor man. As usual, Jude kept saying “I don’t like it” “Just one more” (never known what this means) “You finished yet?” “Nearly finished” “I don’t want the water spray” “I don’t like water” “I want the hair dryer” REPEAT INCESSANTLY.
Here is the boy mid-cut! The new stripy overalls impressed Jude and he initially stroked it down and said “I like my new shirt” Whatever gets the job done Jude…
Anyway, we survived and here was the final outcome:
I think he looks quite Neymar-esque.
So overall we are quite lucky. Jude used to hate having his hair cut when he was little so I’d sit with him on my lap and hold his head still because he was completely incapable of doing so himself. I’ve always been pretty strict with hair cuts because as I’ve mentioned, his hair is horrendous when it gets too long and the last thing he needs with all his other issues in life is to also look like a moron.
Autism and hair cuts do not go hand in hand and I found these tips on the Ambitious about Autism website for anyone dealing with animosity towards visiting the barbers.
When choosing a hairdresser or barbers:
- If you have a choice of chairs, pick a place that isn’t too bright and noisy.
- Talk to the staff before the day: explain your child has autism and what that involves, and ask them to be patient. If they’re cooperative, you can arrange pre-haircut visits, and possibly even let your son or daughter meet the person who’ll be cutting their hair so they’re not a total stranger.
- Avoid the busy times and book on a quiet day.
- Pick an appointment time where your son or daughter won’t already be tired or overwhelmed from a demanding day.
- Be as precise as you can about timing. Let the staff know that waiting is likely to cause problems, and for your part, do what you can to avoid turning up early.
- If hair washing is a problem, do it yourself at home before you go in. Clean, condition and brush, so the hairdresser has to do as little preparation as possible. Alternatively, if the problem is strong-smelling shampoo, you could bring your own brand from home.
- Pack a change of clothes. Children with autism can have hyper-sensitive skin, so if there are any hairs caught, they can wear something fresh and comfortable.
They have other tips about preparing the child directly. Some are pretty obvious but it may be good as a reminder for anyone struggling with hairdresser visits. Here is the link.
I guess a lot of the problem is the unfamiliarity and the massive sensory overload that you or I wouldn’t even think about. The different noises of the hairdryers, the phone ringing, the constant chattering and occasional outburst of laughter, the lighting, the differing smells of the products and the heating could all send a child into sensory overload. We visit the same guy and his barbers is nice and quiet so even when Jude goes into full on nutter mode, it really isn’t a problem and he is such a chilled out guy he just lets Jude get on with it.
As with everywhere, it’s safe to say we’re known in that place now!