Getting your toddler used to a haircut can be tricky and the challenge is ten fold when the child is on the AUTISM SPECTRUM, as all the perceptions, confusions and fears are heightened. So getting your child familiar with scissors, clippers, trimmers and splashing water – desensitisation towards the process before you take him/her for an actual haircut is the best way to incorporate this in their schedule.
There are certain tips that you can follow to help your child prepare for a haircut, but remember every child and every salon environment is different and these can form for the parents/ caregivers the best opportunities to understand the most sensitive areas of the child and his/her trigger points while getting a haircut.
- The first attempt at the haircut can be made during the time of the day when your child tends to be the least overwhelmed.
- Familiarising the child with the process of the haircut and the environment at a salon before you actually make him/her sit through a trial.
- Get the child familiar with the process by showing him/her appropriate videos, getting them used to water splashing, the sound of the trimmer etc.
some easy tips for the same are
- In case your child is not at all comfortable with water splashing into his/her face you can make him/her wear goggles.
- To make your child comfortable with the sound of a trimmer you can switch on and off the trimmer continuously a few times in his vicinity then slowly making it come closer to him/her, and reassuring him all the while that it is a safe device to be used.
- you can make the child touch the scissors (preferably paper scissors initially) on his/her hand and then eventually bring it closer to your child’s ear to make him comfortable with their use near his/her face.
- showing pictures of salons to familiarize with the environment
- Next you can help show the child the process by enacting it on a doll/toy, making it sit in a chair, with a barber’s cape wrapped around, wetting the doll hair and then using toy scissors to cut the doll’s hair.
- You can repeat the above activities a few times before you make your ward sit through the actual process.
ONCE YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD IS COMFORTABLE AND THE PROCESS OF A HAIRCUT HAS BEEN MADE FAMILIAR TO HIM/HER, YOU CAN MAKE YOUR FIRST ATTEMPT AT A HAIRCUT, MAKING SURE THE CHILD IS NOT SICK/IRRITATED/TIRED OF ANY PREVIOUS ACTIVITY; WHILE YOU MAKE HIM/HER SIT AT A CHAIR WITH A BARBER CAPE AROUND, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CERTAIN REINFORCEMENTS IN CASE THE CHILD GETS ANXIOUS WITH THE VARIOUS KNOWN TRIGGERS.
You can choose your reinforcement methods depending upon what works the best for your child, like soft music, his/her favourite movie, make them wear earplugs, promise them a reward etc.
Not just haircuts but other everyday events can be challenging for the people on the AUTISM SPECTRUM and their FAMILIES, but with a little preparation and a lot of patience we can together empower the special lives and towards self-reliance.
Sunrise learning foundation, Noida is a not-for-profit non-Government organization dedicated to providing employment, empowerment, inclusion, independence-Vocational training, education, and support services to differently-abled people and their families.
The ultimate objective of our organization is to ensure that people with special needs are able to capitalize on their strengths, reach their maximum potential, and live a life of dignity and independence.