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Hair cuts and ASD.

(32 Posts)
NatalieJane Fri 19-Nov-10 10:54:27

DS2 has always been absolutely petrified of getting his hair cut, I have given up taking him to the barbers after they had to give up mid-cut because he was going to end up getting hurt, I have had minimal training in cutting hair, and so now do it myself with the clippers, it's never perfect but it's better than dangling in his eyes.

Last time I cut his hair, he screamed like never before for a good two hours solid, I was honestly expecting social services to turn up, if I'd have heard that going on I'd have called them!

So tonight I need to cut his hair again, and I'm looking for any tips you guys may have picked up? I have tried covering him up so he doesn't covered in hair, I've tried not covering him up incase that is what he is hysterical about, I've tried giving the clippers a name and a voice (blush), I've tried toys/drinks/snacks as distractions, just about everything I can think of, is there anything I am missing?

BTW, I do DH's at the same time (straight over with the clipers - easy!) DS2 laughs his head off at Dad having a funny hair cut for a few mins, but still goes balistic when it's his turn.

mompa Fri 19-Nov-10 11:01:59

I don't know what advise to offer you but I completely empathise. My little boy (ASD) hates it too and last time I took to strightening his fringe when he was fast asleep - prob not possible with clippers though!!

embracingtangents Fri 19-Nov-10 11:03:14

Ear plugs/hands over ears? Is it the noise that's difficult?

Do it in front of TV playing favourite DVD?

I haven't had this problem, but good luck. I'm sure someone more knowledgable will be along soon but at least I bumped the thread for you!

NatalieJane Fri 19-Nov-10 11:08:24

Thank you both

I have tried the DVD, no such luck.

I think it is everything about cutting his hair, he does have sensory issues, especially with noise, but he was the same in the hairdressers with scissors, and there is no way I could do it with scissors. He absolutely hates the cut off hair on him, so I try to knock it straight on the floor but it's not always possible, if he sees a clump of it, especially if it's on him, he takes the screaming to the next level. Then of course it's in his mouth, and his face is wet with tears and everything so it's sticking to him.

It is just a nightmare, and it must be awful for him

embracingtangents Fri 19-Nov-10 11:47:27

Is it the prickliness of the hair that's been cut off? Is it unbearably itchy and prickly on his neck and skin?

Or is the trouble that he is visually seeing what was once part of him laying on him very much detached!

Al1son Fri 19-Nov-10 11:59:40

How deeply does he sleep? Could you do a bit at a time each night?

Agnesdipesto Fri 19-Nov-10 12:00:26

We have to do it over several days just a bit at a time. Its a nightmare. I think its touching his head because he can't even stand a comb, the noise and then the hair on his skin. We use a token board and he gets tokens for sitting with still hands and then chocolate at the end of each board (it takes many many token boards over several days) to achieve a complete haircut. But usually by day 3 he will tolerate quite a bit when on day 1 its literally the odd swipe here and there. I think i need to just do it more frequently so its almost weekly and then I think he would become more tolerant. Oh and we cut it while he is on the computer.

Spinkle Fri 19-Nov-10 12:09:53

We do the same as Agnes. Takes me a week to do DS hair. He has a problem with sounds so the bits round the ears are a bit traumatic...

I think he would totally flip with clippers though. Again, the sound would drive him nuts.

Maybe have a go with scissors? I think I'm getting pretty good now!!

NatalieJane Fri 19-Nov-10 12:37:05

Thanks again everyone, will try to answer each question.

EmbracingTangents, I think it's both, he goes all blothcy red where the hair sticks to him, so I think he does have a physical reaction to the itchiness, but then like I said above, if he sees a clump of hair, he just goes bananas.

Al1son, no I couldn't do it as he sleeps, he is a very light sleeper, good idea though!

Agnes and Sprinkle, I daren't get the scissors near him, even if I had half a chance of making it look OK with scissors, he will not sit still at all, kicking, hitting, sobbing, I would give him a whole lot more to be worried about, like an ear or two on the floor, not just his hair!

I don't think the actual sound of the clippers is the problem, he is much more sensitive to loud/high pitch sounds, DH has let DS2 have a go at cutting his hair with the clippers (with me there obviously) and DS is fine with them then.

Bloody hell, I don't know, but I am absolutely dreading it myself, we decided on Monday that we'd do it on Friday, been nagging in my head since, I just wish I could make it less traumatic for him. DH has even (partially) joked about getting him some sort of sleeping pill or something for his hair cut!

NatalieJane Fri 19-Nov-10 12:37:38

So sorry, Spinkle blush

ouryve Fri 19-Nov-10 13:07:40

Empathise, too. DS1's hair is in his eyes. He's fine with having it cut (I cut quite well by hand - would never dare take clippers near him because of the noise) but we haven't had an opportune moment when he's calm and capable of sitting still for weeks.

chuckeyegg Fri 19-Nov-10 13:10:07

I have done most of DS in his sleep but needed to do a bit more and managed to bribe him with time on the computer and did 2 snips. Little and often I think for us. x

blueShark Fri 19-Nov-10 13:23:02

My DS has never been that bad although dislikes haircuts and keeps saying no haircut on the way to the hairdressers. He still cries a bit but the guy is so quick and great and its a 2-3 mins job and once finished DS get a sweets/reward. Last time he first asked I want dessert before sitting on the chair but we said first haircut then dessert.

My suggestion is to prepare your DS with social stories, my DS brought this lovely book from school about a father and son going to the hairdresser getting their hair cut. And at the beginning have him seated at your lap.

Its better to get to resolve the issue while he is still young as the older he grows you may have difficulties doing it yourself as well. But once they are used to it having it done at the hairdressers trust me you crack the problem.

blueShark Fri 19-Nov-10 13:24:07

sorry typed fast...forgive me for making the 'never been than bad' comparisionblush

shaz298 Fri 19-Nov-10 13:26:59

Luuk has this too regardless of if we use clippers or scissors he says his hair hurts! And he doesn't have ASD but does have sensory integration dysfunction.

We have progressed in that he will let me do it, just cries and screams I don't like it the whole time. Initially we had to hold him which wasn't pleasant at all, I can tell you.

We give him as much control as possible, wwhere do we cut it, does he want to go in bath or shower afterwards and try and give some kind of treat if he allows it to be done. He is allowed to shout and scream all he likes if he lets us get on with it. This is the sae rule we have for edical stuff. His job is to lie/sit still but he can verbally object as loudly as he likes. It does work to a certain degree.


zzzzz Fri 19-Nov-10 14:03:43

We do this;
Put ds[5] in the high chair with a large box of raisins out of reach on the kitchen table.
Wrap him in a towel so arms are held down
Dad holds him in tight and safe
I clip [the first few swipes I don't actually cut anything]
I do this till he is getting desperate and then turn everything off and have a raisin [the best thing ever]
Start again, ie re-wrap, hold, clip
I keep going till the head is done or I feel he will disolve
If we do this every few days [not actually cutting obviously], he actually gets perfectly relaxed about the whole thing.
Needless to say I have slipped and not done it for 3 weeks so we shall have to start the process again. Poor child saddled with such an inept Mother.
I think it is just like hating spiders or something you have to desensitize yourself to it.
We go for a buzz cut all over because I think chooseing hairstyles is going to be beyond this little chap for some time grin.

TheArsenicCupCake Fri 19-Nov-10 14:44:11

We have this .. ( that's a smile of empathy)

Ds hates scissors as they 'snip'.. It's worse that the clippers for him.. As the make his scalp feel funny and he hates the noise. He hates the hair getting on him as well and the way his hair feels after!

So I use clippers and a comb and clip at a length fir a beach/surfer cut rather than buzz cut.. This also means he doesn't need so many cuts as it can grow out a lot and is not an issue as it stays on shape..( if he allows me to brush it in the morning for him )

We put on his obbsession DVD and he strips of waist up.. Covering him up seems to make it worse.

I have a hairdryer at the ready to constantly blow off loose hair ( dd normally likes to blast her brother lol)

And we use ear plugs
Before we cut I turn on clippers and he holds them to get use to the buzz

Barring that we try and avoid haircuts like the plague!

prozacpopsie Fri 19-Nov-10 15:26:00

Crikey. I never knew it was such a problem for ASD littlies. We think my son has ASD and he totally freaks out about haircuts. So this makes total sense. (Dimwit mother emoticon...)

Thanks for the thread and the eventual light bulb over my head!

systemsaddict Fri 19-Nov-10 15:41:11

We use tiny nail scissors with curved tips so it feels safer. We put on his favourite TV and feed him chocolate buttons. I have a bowl behind me and snip the hair, hold it in my fingers and drop it in the bowl. We keep feeding him buttons, and try and get the balance between doing it quickly and having him feel what's happening. Often I don't do it all in one go, if he gets worked up we leave it - often start on a Friday night and hope to have it finished before being seen again in public on the Monday. We have to keep it short, because he has similar meltdown reactions to having it washed so it is never really clean, but it is not something I look forward to. Also we have given up on saying 'tonight is haircut night' and instead I look for an opportunity when he's feeling really good and relaxed and chilled (and then wreck it by cutting his hair), but then he doesn't respond well to 'tonight we are going to do x' warnings. He is terrified of the noise of clippers so that's sadly not an option.

Pixel Fri 19-Nov-10 16:12:05

I agree with Blueshark that it's worth persevering at the hairdresser if you can find a sympathetic/patient one. I've always had to hang on to ds for dear life as he would get hysterical and he was getting so strong that I seriously wondered if I would be able to keep hold of him. But, wonder of wonders, last time he sat in the chair and I just knelt in front of him holding his hands so that he couldn't grab the scissors! I couldn't believe it and was so relieved (he's 10 btw so be prepared for the long haul). Now all I need to be able to do is wash his hair before he becomes a greasy teenager.wink

Oh and taking off the shirt to stop it getting hairy - big mistake. He got so hot from all the sobbing that the hair stuck to him and we couldn't get it off. Now I always take a fresh shirt and as soon as his haircut is finished we whip off the fuzzy one, give him a quick brush over and replace it with fresh so he is immediately happier. Hairdresser hovers with the jar of lollies which helps this manoeuvre!

amberlight Fri 19-Nov-10 17:30:22

Haircuts are a nightmare for a fair number of us, tis true.
For me, one of the big problems is that scissors/clippers etc are freezing cold to the touch. It makes a big difference if they're warmed up to slightly more than skin temperature. Very familiar room, as little noise as possible, no smelly lotions and potions. Big spare duvet to wrap around me if I can't cope.
Worth doing a desensitising thing with clippers - offer a reward for a child being in the same room as them, reward for them being closer, reward for touching them when they're off (make sure they're warm!). Reward for being in the room with them switched on. Reward for getting closer. Lots of reward for touching them.
Let a child say which bit they want clipped, and when - so they feel like there's some control rather than a noise like a jet engine and a feeling like ice water randomly all over the place.

Might help, might not.
Or adopt the 1960s long haired hippy look and call it a new style for young people grin

ghoulsforgodot Fri 19-Nov-10 20:41:03

I totally sympathise.
First of all, I call it a "trim" not a "cut" as I think he associates cut with some sort of pain.
Second, my DS loves the bath so I invested in a pair of hairdressing scissors and started trimming a bit at a time while he was distracted in the bath.
How old is your DS?

ouryve Fri 19-Nov-10 20:45:15

Unsurpsingly, amber, DS2 (mini computer geek on my photo page) has long hair! DS1's is too thick and kinky to allow to grow much, though. He looks a bit Boris Johnson in the mornings before I've managed to attack him with a wet sponge and the hairbrush!

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 19-Nov-10 20:46:37

One bit of good news - I reckon they can grow out of this one a bit. My DS at 2,3,4 was an absolute nightmare at having haircuts - you could hear his screams for miles around, even though we had a pal come to my home and do it, with DVD, choc rewards etc. It sounded literally as if we were torturing him, and my DH and I used to have to hold him down physically for fear of injury. Now, at 7, he still doesn't like it but doesn't scream any more and pretty much sits still. I've learnt that the worst thing is that when he cries or sweats, and the hair goes on his face and sticks to it, that drives him mad. So I sort of shield his face when my pal is doing his fringe. I think some things do get easier over time though.

Triggles Fri 19-Nov-10 20:56:18

It's taken awhile for DS2 to be somewhat cooperative during haircuts. He seems to do better when DH is next to him (talking him down the whole time) then when it's me. And there is a Winnie the Pooh toy phone thing that absolutely fascinates him which he only gets to see at the hairdressers, so that helps a bit as well. It's much like "cut a bit, talk him down, cut a bit, talk him down..."

I've noticed that he is slightly better now that he is a little older (4yrs as opposed to 2-3 yrs) and actually recognises the hairdresser (same lady every time ALWAYS). He tolerated the clippers much better than we thought he would, although he's certainly not keen on them, he's not screaming the place down either. Very edgy, very nervous, sometimes bordering on hysterical, but DH talks him down during the process. Thankfully, the hairdresser is fast! grin

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