Haircuts

When it comes to parenting, we all pick our battles.  We weigh our options and decide - is it worth?  Do I really want (or need) to fight this fight?

Where Colin is concerned, there are things that I will make him do, whether he likes it or not.  He has to hold my hand when crossing the street.  He cannot hit me or twist my ears when he's upset.  He has to go to church.  He has to go to therapy.  These are battles that I will fight over and over again. 

With Finley, I fight different battles.

No, you cannot eat your cereal in bed. 

No, you cannot sleep with your iPad.  

Yes, you have to get a haircut.

With Finn, fighting about a haircut is more of a power struggle.  Once he is in the process of getting it cut, he is fine.  Mommy wins that battle.  

Haircuts for Colin, however, are a completely different story.  We used to take him to get a haircut at a salon.  One of us would hold him down.  One would offer him juice, snacks, suckers, phones with Youtube playing, anything that might help distract him.  He fought.  Screamed.  Cried.  Held his breath.  He would get so worked up that he would nearly pass out or vomit.  

I would cry because I felt so awful for him.  I felt bad for the girl who was trying to cut his hair, because I know it wasn't an easy job.  That guilt always led me to tip them really well because I knew they had earned it! 

We always held off on cutting his hair for as long as possible.  I would dread "hair cut day" with all that I had in me.  The last time we took him to a salon for a hair cut was over a year ago.  I just could not do it.  I asked Curtis to take him in and let me sit in the car with Finn.  The whole time I sat there, trying to get a glimpse of what was happening. They were in there a long time and I worried myself sick.  Curtis was the stronger parent that day.  I just couldn't. 

After what felt like an eternity, they walked out the door.  My heart broke when I saw my boy.  He had a vacant stare.  His cheeks were bright red, and I knew he had been crying.  This picture was taken right after he got in the car:



You can see the stress in his whole body.  He is tense and on the verge of being sick. Within two minutes, he fell asleep, just completely worn out and overwhelmed.   I vowed this day to never put him through that ever again.

You see, we take in information about our world through our five senses.  (Unless you are the kid from The Sixth Sense, but that's a notha' story!)  Our brains interpret that information, and then we can react appropriately.  For example, you touch a hot stove.  The signal is sent to your brain, it says, "That's hot!"  and your body reacts by pulling your hand away to keep you from getting burnt.    

Colin was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD) when he was two and a half years old.  Basically, his body interprets sensory information differently.  This is a big deal with people who have autism.  To you or me, a hair cut is no big deal.  To Colin, a hair cut causes him physical pain.  Once I realized this, I was sick.  Knowing that I had held him down and forced him to get hair cuts...what kind of mother was I?!  I had forced my baby to endure physical agony all for the sake of not looking a little shaggy?

I have read accounts of people with sensory processing disorder getting hair cuts.  Some say that they can actually feel the hair being cut.  Imagine how excruciating that must be?  .....and I put my baby through that.  #notmotheroftheyear

Someone recommended Calming Clippers, so I hopped on Amazon and ordered them immediately.  (I mean, don't we all buy everything on Amazon?  Thank Heavens for Prime!)  



Now, I cut Colin's hair when he takes a nap.  He rarely naps these days, so hair cuts are few and far between.  He gets a little shaggy from time to time, but that's okay.  Mommy is no beautician, so they might not be the best haircuts either, but you know what?  It's just hair.  




Curtis and I have attended some parent training courses offered by Colin's (soon-to-be) ABA school.  One class was called "Haircuts, Dentists, and Doctors, Oh My."  They gave us a 23-step process on how to help Colin get through a haircut.  In short, it involves breaking it down into tiny steps in order to desensitize him to it.  We bought the quietest electric clippers we could find.  The ABA school had recommended these: (picture is a clickable link)



If you know someone who struggles with haircuts, I highly recommend these products!  If I can make my son's life easier, I will do whatever it takes!  Even if that means tricking him into a nap and crawling around like a ninja to trim his hair!

We will work on the desensitization for haircuts...someday.  For now, that's just not a battle I am ready to fight.  Like I said earlier, it's just hair.  





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