Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Going To The Hairdresser

There are many social situations which can cause stress to a child with an Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - taking them to get a haircut with a hairdresser is one of them.

A hair salon can be extremely distressing and invasive for an ASD child. If they are sensitive to noise or smell then they may be put off by the sounds of hairdryers and clippers not to mention the smell of chemical based hair products. Often the lighting and mirrors can be too much for them to handle as can the touch of the hands and scissors scraping against their neck.

So other than attempting to cut your child’s hair at home, there are some things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.

It is definitely worthwhile visiting the salon prior to the appointment without your child. That way you can make special requests in terms of appointment times (opt for a quiet time in the salon) and establish the best place for your child to sit during the appointment. Advise the salon of your needs and mention that you will need a double appointment as it may take longer than usual to cut your child’s hair. Also let them know you would like to avoid any waiting time if at all possible prior to your appointment.

Make use of social stories and role play prior to the appointment and if necessary, take a photo of the salon on your first visit to use in the story to help familiarise your child with what is going to occur at the salon.

Distraction is important when scissors are involved so a portable dvd player, games console, headphones, or their favourite book or toy can help draw their attention away from the haircut. Use whatever works in terms of reassuring your child during the process - hold their hand, have them sit on your lap, hug them – anything that will help them relax.

Do not be upset if you are unable to complete the haircut in one visit. It may be worthwhile revisiting the salon in a few weeks to help continue the desensitising process. Further work may need to be done in terms of role play or social stories.

Choosing the salon that is best for you and your child may be one of the biggest aspects you have to overcome however once you do, your child may soon learn to feel proud of their “new haircut” and look forward to their next special visit.

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