Saturday, June 18, 2011

Autism and Haircuts: Conor Has A Great Haircut Treat Adventure

Above: Conor after this morning's haircut.

Below: Conor before this morning's haircut.

Conor has full blown Autistic Disorder with profound developmental delays. Haircuts were a real challenge at one time.  But things have improved dramatically with time, effort, planning and education.Today was a great haircut day for Conor with very little difficulty and he is much more comfortable with much of his thick hair laying in piles around the barber chair.  

I thought I would share some of our approach for those who are looking for ideas; things that have helped us with Conor:

1. Pick a spot which has less traffic and noise for your child's haircut.

2. Pick a time when there will be less traffic. For us it is 9 am Saturday morning.

3. Find someone to cut your child's hair who has patience, understanding, empathy and willingness to take her/his time, using scissors as much as possible, and, as much as possible, without electric buzzing clippers.

4. Stick with the same person, place and time for the haircuts as much as possible.

5. Tell your child beforehand that they will be going for a haircut in a day or two, so that it is not a surprise for them.

6. Have mom  or dad close by ready to hold their hand and talk to them.

7. Distract them if necessary with verbal games eg having them count by 10's, 5's, 2's etc, or sing songs.

8. Bribe them. Tell them they are going on a haircut treat adventure with the treat following the haircut.

9. Tell them what a great job they are doing, what a great boy/girl they are as they are getting their hair cut.

These are some of the things that have worked for us.  Each time Conor gets a haircut with minimal fuss it is in itself a form of reward that should make it easier the next time.  Maybe some autistic children don't need special efforts by their parents and power to them and their families. If you do you may want to consider these suggestions ... if you haven't already.

(Yes, I bribed Conor today too, with a trip to McDonald's for some hash browns, which Dad also enjoys)

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