Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Haircuts and #autism: 21 tips from parents

Image by John Kasawa
So many kids with #autism seem to find haircuts very traumatic.  If this is your child, then hopefully these tips from other Hearts & Minds parents may help:

1. Let him (or her) watch a favourite film, perhaps on the iPad.

2. Give his favourite soft toy a 'haircut' first.

3. Let him enjoy a favourite activity such as playing with water in the sink.

4. A home hairdresser can work well, once he is used to her.

5. Massage his head beforehand to desensitise a little - like body brushing before a bath.

6. A shampoo shield that keeps suds and water out of your child's eyes may help.  This one was recommended by one parent:,default,pd.html?cm_sp=ProductFeatures-_-Category%2520landing-_-Mothercare%2520Shampoo%2520Shield&q=shampoo%20shield

7. A social story that would go something like this: Find the clippers, sit on a chair, put on cape, hair gets cut then he gets to enjoy a favourite activity.

8. Clippers seem to work well when they are younger and introduce scissors when they are older.

9. Try cutting the hair while the child is asleep.

10. Avoid sensory overload by using soft music or nature sounds with headphones, dimming the lights and make the room as calm as possible.

11.  Use white noise for kids who enjoy the sounds of household equipment like vacuum cleaners and washing machines, or buy a Flow- bee, which is a vacuum cleaner attachment for cutting hair.

12. Use visual schedules, visual timers and build up tolerance by going to hairdressers every week.

13.  If your child doesn't like noise and vibration, try scissors on wet hair, then straight in the shower afterwards.

14. Take your child to a specialist children's or special needs hairdressing salon.  Try taking him once a week for just a comb through and build up to a bit of water spray and then finally a cut. Choose a quiet time and give him loads of praise and rewards afterwards.

15. For children who need to feel in control you could offer a choice between gelling it back and cutting it.

16.  Introduce the child to the clippers - perhaps let him feel them, or let him use them to cut the hair on a toy (both of these under close supervision obviously.

17. If the child doesn't like a shower, have a bath ready so that he can jump in as soon as the haircut is finished.

18. Let them play on the DS or iPad and be fast!

19. Wrap him in a towel whilst cutting his hair.  This keeps his arms away from the scissors and hair off his skin.  It also probably makes him feel more secure and one Mum also said that her son sits on her knee and that help him to cope too.

20. Remember to ask your occupational therapist for tips that could help your child.

21. Leave the ear area until last, wrap them in a blanket and put talc on their neck and face to stop the hair sticking and itching.

More great tips here too:

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