One of the roles you may find yourself filling as a parent of a child with autism is that of a barber. Parents of children on the autism spectrum may find that taking their child to a barbershop doesn’t always end well. Getting a haircut for a child on the autism spectrum often results in massive sensory overload, and can easily lead to a meltdown or tantrum. If your child with autism struggles with haircuts, here are some strategies to help them get them looking fresh without the stress.
Start by Taking Notes
When you first start giving your child haircuts, it will likely be trial by fire. The more you observe and take note of, however, the more you can learn and the quicker you can adjust your approach. Pay attention to certain aspects of the process that seem to be stressful for your child switch up that particular part of your method for next time.
Choose the Right Time
The time your child gets their haircut is important to getting through it smoothly. Each child will be different, but generally speaking you don’t want to schedule a haircut during a time where your child is likely to be stressed or tired, such as right after school. For this reason, choosing a weekend day is typically your best bet. Take note of when your child seems to be at their best energy level and best mood and aim for that time. You may need to do some experimenting with different times before you nail one down.
Stick to a Routine
When you have your ideal time figured out, be sure to stick to it and mark it down on the calendar. Whether it’s every two weeks, three weeks, or once per month, make sure it is something your child can expect and be prepared for.
Find the Right Tools
You’ll want to make sure the clippers and scissors you use are both high-quality and safe. The better the clippers are, the smoother they will operate and the sooner the haircut will be over. One unique product that gets rid of the buzzing sound that is often a source of sensory overload is the Calming Clipper.
Prepare Your Child Beforehand and Walk Them Through
Before you begin the haircut, walk your child through each step, explaining what you will do in advance, using visuals and pictures to support your explanation. During the haircut, talk them through what you are doing and give them reassurance to help keep them calm.
Motivate Your Child with Positivity
Use positive reinforcement to motivate your child to keep on their best behavior during the haircut, such as scheduling a fun activity or offering a special reward after each haircut. Be sure to give plenty of praise and encouragement during their haircut as well. When they are all done, don’t forget to compliment on how good they look with their freshly cut hair.
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