Snip Snip

Well, summer break is quickly approaching it’s end (OMG!) and we are beginning back-to-school preparations.  One of the things on the to-do list is hair cuts for all three of the kids, especially for the boys.  Let’s just say, if this doesn’t happen soon, we are going to have a bunch of Sasquatch hunters camped out in our front yard with telephoto lenses just waiting for one of them to come out the front door for a photo op.

Hair cuts aren’t a problem for Will.  He absolutely loves to get his hair cut.  There is the (nonstop) chatting with the hair stylist, getting to decide on whether or not to go ultra-short or just trim the haystack to continue the Luke Skywalker look he’s been going for lately, the cool spinny chair, the smells and movement of the salon.  All of it.

Joel, on the other hand….  Yikes.

Our littlest guy has never once been to a salon for his own hair cut.  I don’t expect it to happen any time soon.  So, that means he is resigned to having a crazy scarecrow ‘do courtesy of his own mum and dad.  When I’m cutting his hair, I’m not really going for a specific look.  My only goals when cutting his hair are (1) cut his hair and (2) not cut him (or others) with the scissors.

We’ve tried having one of his hold him down while the other one quickly cuts whatever hair is sticking out, but this is dangerous because he will not sit still.  At all.  So, I’ve had to get creative in my approach.

What I do is get Joel interested in a movie or t.v. show and then stand behind him with a pair of scissors and slowly snip away at the hair on the back of his head while he is distracted.  This is extremely hit or miss because he isn’t stupid.  He can hear the scissors and feel me messing with him.   It looks something like this:

Most of the time, he catches onto what I’m up to and starts to run from me.  And, because I am that kind of person who doesn’t want to give up on something I’ve started, this happens:

Once I’ve eventually cut the hair in the back and as much on the sides as I can, I then have to resort to asking Husband to hold Joel down while I cut the rest of the hair on the sides and in the front.  If Joel is especially wiggly, we have to have Maya help hold his hands.  This doesn’t take anywhere near as long as the first part, but it is definitely stressful.  I “look forward” to going through this either this week or sometime next week, depending on how long I procrasinate.

So, fellow Autism parents out there, how do you handle hair cuts and other grooming needs with your little cuties on the Spectrum?  Or, do you have any stories about this you’d like to share?  Also, if anyone on the spectrum is reading this, what worked or does work for you?  I need all the help I can get and any input is appreciated.


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  1. Tuck’s hair used to be passed his shoulders till two years ago for the mere fact that his fits would prompt gagging and close bouts with DHS. (I’m totally kidding about the dhs:)) But what I learned that worked, and this is just my own little experience of course) is allowing him to get his hair cut outside. I allow Tuck to stand sit whatever he pleases. And during this he can eat his M&M’s hold a dish towel over his face (to protect him from the loud clippers he says) and afterwards he gets to run wild with the water hose in hand and leap into his kiddie pool. It’s a three ring circus with him and getting a hair cut so I can relate totally! This is just what we found works for us 🙂

    • I am toying with the notion of an outdoor attempt and am carefully planning my strategy. The problem I know I will have is the fact that, once outdoors, Joel keeps a healthy distance from me because he doesn’t want to be brought back indoors. So, he keeps one eye on his activity, which is usually picking up sticks and transferring them from pile to pile, and the other on me, to make sure I don’t interfere. The other problem I see with this, is that I will literally be chasing him with sharp objects in view of my neighbors and I’d rather not have the police and/or DHS involved all because Sasquatch-boy hates a haircut.

      I’m glad you found something that works for Tuck. Thanks for sharing your strategy. 🙂

  2. We’ve gone full circle. I gave Philip his first haircut in the bath tub back when he didn’t care. I cut his hair a couple of times that way until he started to dodge and weave and cry. Then I resorted to cutting his hair while he was asleep. Unfortunately, I couldn’t always count on him staying asleep. Now, we are back to cutting his hair in the tub. I put some shaving cream down on the mat and let him play while I trim as much as I can. I never get it all in one sitting, and it isn’t very attractive, but it is short.
    Good luck!

    • I’ve never attempted cutting Joel’s hair in the bathtub, but I might give it a try. My instincts tell me that he is going to do what Philip did, which was dodge and weave, but if I’ve learned anything being Joel’s mom is that I never really can know what to expect. 🙂

  3. Sounds familiar – darn it, that hair grows so fast! Henry has only had 2 professional haircuts in his life, and I tried to do what you do in between – with the same results. I take brother to a kiddie haircut place (with videos and a car to sit in) and H got used to coming along. The last time, he noticed brother got a lolly at the end and wanted one (his first one ever). For us, that became the key. We now pull into the parking lot and he anticipates getting a lolly, and endures the cut. There is crying involved, but the joy of a lolly wins out. Yes, I bribe my child and I’ll do it again. Good luck – I know it isn’t much fun.

    • You are not joking about the rate of hair growth! I’ve tried giving Joel a lolly pop while he was getting his haircut. Not my smartest move ever….

    • As for bribing, I have no shame whatsoever. We only have so many hours in our day and so many things to do during that limited amount of time. 🙂

  4. What is something Joel really, really wants but doesn’t have? It sounds like you need a super high motivator to sit through the cut. If you isolate something, whether it is a chocolate cupcake, lolly like Hooray for Henry suggests or playing with water balloons or a special toy, you must tell him that he can have that when the cut is over. Meanwhile, during the cut, try to have him play with something super interesting, like the shaving cream suggested, playdoh, “slime”, fake “snow” anything that will keep his interest and his hands busy while you cut.

    For Toots, he is much easier to cut. He doesn’t really mind it anymore as long as it’s me cutting or (even his adult 1/2 sister who is a stylist) but he still swears and counts. And I always do it when his hair is still wet after a bath – which also helps keep him calm. Hope this helps somehow! 🙂

    • This got me thinking. Maybe I should try cutting his hair outdoors where he can play with something uber messy, like sand or dirt. He loves the pine cones in our yard, etc. I am worried that he will want to run around while that is happening, but I wouldn’t mind trying something new if it made the process (possibly) easier. Then again, it could totally blow up in my face. Thanks for the advice!

  5. I’ve tried to do it when he’s in the tub. He can’t run away that way. It was a bear to clean up. I’ve let my husband do it quick with a razor. That ends up with a hair cut that is way too short and uneven. Thankfully, he has grown to like getting his hair cut by a professional. He sits still for them a lot better than he ever did with me.

    • I am pretty sure a razor would not work for Joel. He would be way too fascinated by that to leave it alone. I hope that some day Joel will be able to sit still for a professional stylist. Otherwise, he is going to look like Shaggy from Scooby Do for the rest of his life. 🙂

  6. Buzz cut. Once we let him touch the clippers and he got used to the noise, he was okay. I only have to chase him a little bit. Oh. but I do have to keep the hair dryer plugged up to blow any itchy hairs that get on him. It’s so funny you posted this, because I just got done giving the kids haircuts about two hours ago!

  7. I have considered the buzz cut look, but I just don’t know if it is “Joel.” He looks so sweet with his blond hair curling around his ears and framing his face. I know that a lot of people would be mad at me if I cut it that short, especially his dad and my sister.

    I can bet he would love the clippers on a sensory basis. One of the things his OT suggested for him to use is an electric toothbrush. He likes to chew on it, but I doubt he will let me use the clippers on his hair. He is so sensitive to people touching it. I appreciate the advice 🙂

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