Tips for Successful Trips to the Hairdresser

If you have a child with autism, it’s most likely they don’t like visiting places like the hairdresser or the dentist. In fact, they probably detest it and would rather eat brussel sprouts than sit in a chair and have someone cut their hair.

At some point though you will have to take your child to the hairdresser, unless of course you decide to do it yourself.

Here are some tips and tricks that can help you and your child to have a successful visit to the hairdresser that will hopefully set you up for future visits.

1. Do your research
Find a hairdresser who specialises in haircuts for people with autism. You may have to ask some questions online and get recommendations from Facebook groups, but with any luck you will find someone local to you who can provide the unique service you’re after.

2. Start them young
The younger your child is when you introduce them to the hairdresser, the better it will be for future visits. Get them used to sitting in the chair, wearing the apron, having their head touched and having clippers and scissors near their face.

3, Create a social story
Either create your own story about your child and their visit to the hairdresser or find a book that tells a story. There are some great resources online to help you create your own social story. Or you can visit the library and borrow or go online and purchase a book such as ‘Suzie Goes the Hairdresser’ by Charlotte Olsen.

Here’s a link to some free social stories about getting a haircut:

4, Imaginary Play
Playing ‘make believe’ games can help to create parallels to normal life. Try to incorporate pretend trips to the hairdresser, or to the dentist and other places that cause anxiety in an attempt to help your child get used to these situations. Perhaps they can play the role of the hairdresser and ‘cut’ Mum or Dad’s hair.

5. Create a distraction
Sometimes the easiest thing to do to relax your child during a time of heightened emotions is to offer a distraction. This could be playing some relaxing music, or being able to play a game or watch a video on a phone or iPad. Whilst they are distracted the hairdresser may be able to work their magic.

If all else fails, what’s a few inches of extra hair going to matter? You can only try so much and at the end of the day, not having a haircut is not the worst thing in the world. Pick your battles. If you don’t succeed, don’t see it as failure, chalk it up as an experience that you have learned from. Good luck.


SASI Guest Parent Blogger

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