Autism Watch: 2007

Autism Gets a Haircut

Posted on: April 7, 2009

A few months ago, I chronicled a visit to the dentist from a different perspective. Here we go again, since it’s the easiest way to fully describe how hellacious routine things can be.

Ds, or Barnacle Boy, has always had a difficult time with haircuts. After dh developed a steady routine with me after his first haircut at age 3.5, it got a little better, but only if the routine was followed each time. It included time to adjust to the chair, the tools, patience during the cut, and a balloon and treat after. Fast forward five years, and BB has long hair. It’s a combination of not liking haircuts, wanting to have cool hair, and wanting to be able to hide his eyes behind his hair like it’s a curtain. We promised him no haircuts (other than rare trims) if he washed it and brushed it; in other words, it had to be clean and no knots. This past week, it came time for the second of trims, and he was really not happy with it. It took a couple of weeks to get him to the point of readiness, and dh insisted I take him so I could direct the stylist. I think that was the first mistake.

I drove him early on Saturday up to the stylist, expecting a wait of at least a few minutes since there were already others in the waiting room. That would have given BB some time to adjust to the sounds and smells and not feel rushed, but they had an immediate opening and he was called right in. Autism needs an adjustment period to any new environment, and that didn’t happen. Autism doesn’t like different odors, lighting or crowds and the accompanying sounds without prep time. To make things worse, I’d forgotten my cellphone in the car, and BB wanted pictures taken so I had to run to my car to get it. (It didn’t help that I park my new car way away from mainstream traffic, so it wasn’t a two-second jaunt.)  I returned quickly, thank God for stamina from running daily, but then the problem was, he didn’t tell me where he wanted the pictures taken, or of what, specifically. I shouldn’t have assumed it was just typical pictures of him getting his haircut. That would have been too easy, and nothing’s easy with BB. Autism doesn’t like to be out of control and have a curveball thrown at it.

The stylist already looked put out by BB’s behavior, wanting to know what was up with him. I whispered to her what it was, and that patience was her best tool. Autism needs a chance to speak its mind and control the environment a bit. I meant my pointer in a helpful kind of way, for her benefit as well as his, but I’m not so sure she cared for my advice. (But, too bad, he’s a paying customer and I’m asking you nicely.) He started to flip out over the white piece of fabric that gets wrapped around the neck to prevent hair from getting inside the collar; autism doesn’t like tags and tight things, so the stylist said no problem and didn’t put it on. But, by then, the damage was done. Autism was out of control.

The salon was fairly crowded for early on a Saturday morning. People were staring. I was trying to quiet him down, and apologizing to the stylist at the same time. “Don’t take it personal.” He wasn’t saying anything bad to her or about her, but he did make sure everyone knew that he liked the “other” place better, he didn’t like this place, and didn’t ever want to come back. Stylist would say “head this way” and head went that way. Stylist would say “hold your head up” and head went down. Autism was mad.

Finally, he was done. Fastest haircut he’s had yet, though I don’t honestly think the stylist needed to push it that fast. She let her personal feelings, e.g. “get this kid OUT of here” get in the way. So, he’s right. I won’t take him back there. The manager approached me at checkout, while BB was trying to escape, I said “no, stay here” and he ran anyway. People were staring. One guy in particular looked flabbergasted (okay, there are other words but that one’s just fun to say) that he said no and ran out. I focused on the fact he didn’t run away, just outside the door. I can live with that. The manager asked what was wrong, and I explained to her. She was very nice, and didn’t seem thrown at all. But, still won’t go back there. He may be a handful, but he’s a child, a human with feelings, and a paying customer.

We went straight to the car, didn’t pass Juice It Up and didn’t collect a prize from the game machines at his favorite pizza parlor next door. Straight home. He complained all the way home about how his hair was too short, how everyone could see it, talk about it and not like it. Autism was on a roll. We pull into the driveway, dad’s walking out front just in time to watch BB slam the new car door. BB decided he was not going to go see the Easter bunny for a picture; in fact, he was going nowhere. Really. Two hours later, we were getting into the car to get our annual bunny shot. He smiled. The bunny was patient. The line was short and BB bought a stuffed monkey he named Butterscotch. It was a promise to us that he would stay at school all day, every day for the month of April. Do you want to know how it’s gone since? I will update that story tomorrow. Right now I have to go see if the school has answered either of my emails. The nurse and I are bonding, and I’m on her speed dial. Monkey see, monkey do? NO way.

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1 Response to "Autism Gets a Haircut"

I have delt with getting my son’s Haircut. My son is Ninteen now; they are still cutting his Hair at School. He has a great Aba school. when he ‘s finished with school I will try again.
I really don’t care what the Uneducated Jugemental people of our Society think of my son anymore;may they reap what they Sow. I have told people to their face, till you walk in my shoes you have not got the right to judge me. Only G-d can. My Son’s made great progress but he’s still Autistic. Maybe we should more money on a Cure and less on funding Over paid Ceo’s.

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