Taking a child that has autism to get their hair cut or styled, to a salon or barber shop may become a challenge to the parents or caregivers. The event of doing this can also be an enjoyable trip for the child as well as the stylists.
The first step would be to introduce the child or young person to a salon or barber shop, before taking the person to the location of where he or she will have their hair cut or styled. One could make it a fun game, act out the trip, by either drawing pictures of the salon or barber shop, showing how one looks before one has their hair done and draw a picture after the hair is completely styled. Make it fun looking and enjoyable
It's an excellent plan to find a stylist that understands autistic children and knows how to cope with the individual when they arrive at the place to be styled or cut. It is wise to work with the stylist to give them a better understanding of what to expect from the behavior of the child with autism and how the hair should be cut.
Make your appointment ahead of time and be sure the stylist you want is available for that appointment and is up to date on what to anticipate from your child during that appointment. It is advisable to schedule your appointment when you know your child is less stressful during the day. That may vary with the stress of the day, their behaviors and personality. One might want to consider the morning after breakfast, after lunch, or it might be a good time on the week-end, when both parents are usually home and available to take part in the adventure.
It is imperative to consider who is going to accompany the child with the disorder of autism to the salon or barber shop. Will it be the mother or father or both. The child may want to make choices of who, he or she wants go with them. These choices can change each time or they can remain the same or even alternate with parents or caregivers. Respect the choices of your child.
Some children when arriving, might not enjoy the buzzing sound of the clippers or the feel of the vibration it has on their neck or head. Play a game with the child and use your imagination by gently trying it out on the top part of their hand and calling it a "tickle machine" to keep the child from being alarmed. Put it on the top part of your hand also. Request the stylist to use a cartoon or colorful cape and fasten it around the neck, so the person will be protected from the unwanted hair on their clothes. Bring a stuffed toy or animal with you, or a favorite toy that the child likes and enjoys to give comfort and a feeling of security.
If your child feels more at ease and secure with you being along side of them, when the hair is being cut, do it. You can sit on the stylist chair and hold the autistic child on your lap to give more security and confidence to the individual, when the hair is being cut or trimmed.
Take a practice run with your child to the salon or barber shop. Show them the equipment that will be used, let them hear the sounds of the clippers, blow dryers, show them where the bathroom is, familiarize them with surroundings, including the stylist chair they will be sitting on. Make it fun, be creative and compliment the child on how nice he or she looks after the stylist is finished.
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