I was in a meeting yesterday at school with two other mums and school staff and we strayed onto one difficulty that we had all three experienced with our sons : that of getting their hair cut. All three boys have a different diagnosis and traits, but all have special needs and all of them detest having their haircut.Wewere discussing the topic as the youngest boy has had his hair cut this weekend, by his desperate parents. The teacher in the meeting had been able to make hair trimming a game for another boy in her class and had successfully achieved something that his parents could not manage and had asked forhelp.Butclearly school staff, even those with a background in hairdressing, are not allowed to restrain our children in the way that we have all had to.
It makes some sense to me why it should be such a frighetning experience : in a salon, a stranger sits you down in a a large chair, covers you up in a gown and then begins to work around your face with sharp clicking scissors! You then see part of yourself fall away as you lose possession of your fair baby hair. I always told Joshua, while he screamed and thrashed about, that it did not hurt, but nonetheless, I can see that it would still be frightening.
After Joshua was thrown out of a barber when he was much younger, after the stylist cut her finger while trying to trim his moving head, for several years we would use clippers on him at home. Joshua would sit on my knee in the hall, with me clamping his thrashing arms down at his side, while my husband attempted to clip his mop of hair like a wooly sheep being shorn. He would scream and wriggle throughout the process, so all stress levels were high, but at least we were satisfied that it was so short that it would not need doing again for another six months and at least the trauma was not in a public place, like a salon.
As Joshua got bigger and older, and realised that this ordeal was not going away, he got more difficult to hold on my knee but he calmed down slightly. We were ready to try the salon once again. We set the scene carefully : booked an appointment at the end of the day when everyone else had gone home, had two members of staff available and turned the music up loud. The first time last year, he was cross but nothing like before and gardually each visit he has got calmer and calmer. So much so that last time, he did not need his hands restraining at all, and he enjoyed checking his new look out in the mirror!
So I want to offer hope to those parents out there who, like I did, get so worked up at the prospect of a haircut but despair at their long-haired scruffy child, who has yet another way of looking different to his peers. Keep trying and if Joshua is anything to go by, your child will finally tolerate it and for the first time in his life, he has a proper hairstyle, rather than a shaved head!