To My Autistic Son’s Hairstylist: Thank You
There is an unsung hero among the autistic community. Her name is Karis and she works at Cool Cuts for Kids.
Things that come easy for most kids, like haircuts, are often very challenging obstacles for children with autism. The first time my son sat in the little firetruck at Cool Cuts for Kids for a haircut with Karis, he had one of the worst meltdowns I think Id ever witnessed. It took Karis, me and my husband to pin him down to finish the haircut. I was certain Id hear what Id heard before, that wed need to find someone else.
Thats not what Karis did. Instead she gave me encouragement and suggestions. She told me it would get better and there were things I could do to help. She told me to use a vibrating toothbrush at home next to his ears to help him get used the sensation of the clippers. She suggested we get toy clippers and pretend to give haircuts at home. She let his behavior therapist come to haircuts to offer support. She let me film video and take photos to create a social story he could watch between haircuts.
My son now looks forward to going to see Miss Karis and getting a haircut. This may seem insignificant to some, but for our family this is a giant success.
To her this is probably just part of her job. To me, this is an olive branch of autism acceptance the world needs to see and embrace. I want to personally thank Cool Cuts for Kids for hiring employees like Karis that welcome children of all abilities into their salon with open arms.
Preventing Problem Behaviors During Haircuts
Many children with autism have a very difficult time tolerating haircut. It is a very challenging task for them. Besides that, there are some activities that make them disturbed such as nail clipping and all kinds of medical procedures. Now, lets dive in and mention some ways that caregivers can make haircuts more tolerable for them.
There was a boy named Max, who was two years old. He was not yet diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. In fact, Max never got the diagnosis of autism but he had major problem behaviors, such as screaming and crying throughout the day. One day, his mom insisted that she needed to take him to get a haircut. And she needed a behavior analysis to go along to see this haircut and give the analysiss advice.
So, without making an appointment or selecting a kid-friendly hair salon, they took Max to a franchise type of haircut salon. And obviously, it did not go well. They got the newest hairdresser. She looked like a deer in headlights. Max was already crying as soon as they entered the salon. Max was just two, so his mom had him wrapped around her, screaming and flailing, and the hairdresser was not able to do a good job. It was just a bad experience all around.
When there are problem behaviors, it is really a no-win situation. If a child with autism is having severe problem behaviors, you are going to want to consult with a professional to help you individualize the plan, in this case, it is a haircut plan.
My Autistic Son Is Scared Of Hair Cuts
I need some ideas. My 3 year old boy is autistic. He is, and always has been, absolutely scared of getting his hair cut. One person has to hold him down or put him in a headlock while the other uses the clippers to buzz his hair as fast as possible. no, he doesn’t tolerate scissors. It’s traumatic for everyone, and with him now being 40 lbs, he’s stronger when he fights back. It’s hard for the person cutting with him trying to thrash around and throw his head back. I am at a loss, and don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried going to a fancy kids parlor, having my dad buzz his hair in front of a favorite movie or a mirror, offering snacks during hair cuts, singing songs, nothing helps. He freaks out. He’s doesn’t say any words, so it’s not like we can talk to each other about how he feels. If anyone has experience or advice for this please share. Thanks.
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Sensory Reasons For Hair Struggles:
Vestibular Some kids are sensitive to having their head tilted backwards or forward for rinsing when having their hair washed. Your vestibular system controls your bodys sense of balance and motion. Kids with vestibular issues can feel unsteady, uncomfortable, or even afraid when tipping their head.
Olfactory Your child may be sensitive to the smell of the hair products you are using on them.
Tactile Many children with sensory issues have very sensitive scalps or are sensitive to touch in general from hands, brushes or combs, and even water. Water on their face, in their eyes, or having shampoo get in their eyes can be difficult for all kids, let alone ones with higher sensitivities. Tactile is the most common reason for problems with hair care in kids with sensory sensitivities.
Auditory Some kids struggle with the sound of the clippers at the hairdresser or the sound of the water in a shower.
Tips For A Great Haircut
Take all the breaks you need, even taking a weekend to work in short sessions.
Use sound and visual distractions to keep them occupied. Earbud headphones can work wonders!
Try counting to 10 before you stop cutting, giving them a goal to focus on.
Every child is unique. This can be a great way of learning more about what they are sensitive to.
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Going To The Hairdressers With My Autistic Son
I think it is very common for children to struggle with their first few haircuts and we just assumed it would get better. For us it got worse each visit. My son would become very distressed and the only way to actually get his haircut was for me to sit on the stool with him on my lap being held down. I hate to say that effectively I have had to restrain my son to get his haircut and I was very upset at the time.
Thankfully since I have found some very helpful tips. I am sharing them with you now in the hope they will help you too.
Hair: Sensory Issues With Washing Cutting And Brushing
Those with Sensory difference can have problems when it comes to touch, this can be really uncomfortable and sometimes very painful causing the individual to have a meltdown. In some situations this really cannot be avoided completely especially when it comes to taking care of their hygiene including their hair. Washing, brushing and cutting the hair can be a traumatic experience for the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder so what can be done to help?
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Step Two: Comb Their Hair Then Apply The Guard And Hair Oil
Okay, now that your workspace is ready, it’s time to get your tools ready, too! This part is so easy, and we’re even going to break it down into three mini-steps for you:
- Comb Their Hair Make sure to work through any tangles and get any product residue out. Just trust us on this one.
- Attach the Guard to Your Razor We recommend starting with the largest guard first.
- Apply Oil to the Razor Once you’ve attached the guard, apply a few drops of oil to the razor. It helps it glide more easily and prevents split ends!
Now you’re ready to start cutting, so let’s move ahead to step three!
Would Special Nail Clippers Help
I get asked this question all the time, but Ive never personally used any special clippers. However, I did come across this electric nail file that smooths the nails down, instead of clips it. My guess is that some kids would prefer this, but for others it will give other sensations that could be equally intense. If youve used any special clippers successfully, please share them with us in the comments!
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Hair Care: Tips For Kids With Sensory Struggles
Hair care can be torture for some kids with sensory issues. While all of us have sensory preferences, for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder or autism, having their hair washed, combed, or cut can go beyond just being unpleasant. Ive put together a list of tips to help kids who struggle with sensory issues when it comes to their hair.
Lately, a lot of readers have been contacting me for advise about their childs hair. I understand this concern well as one of our sons used to cower in the corner when he saw me reach for the hair brush. He would scream and beg me not to comb his hair.
Mornings became difficult for both of us. His beautiful curls became knotted if I gave in to his pleas not to comb it which only made it worse. And bath times were another battle ground as he hated the feeling of the water on his face when rinsing the shampoo off.
Obviously with his scalp being as sensitive as it was, there was absolutely no way he would allow a hairdresser near his head.
We got to the point where we just shaved his hair super short so that it didnt have to be such a daily battle.
Since then, Ive learned a lot about sensory and together, he and I have come a LONG way! He is a teenager now and actually enjoys getting his hair cut at the barber. He does prefer to keep it short still, but is happy to have it washed and cut.
Step Three: Start From The Top
You’ve got the razor all set up, with the largest guard attached, so we suggest you start cutting from the top. We personally like to keep the hair up top a little thicker, which is why we use the biggest guard first.
Slow and easy does it, so don’t rush! This is a quick process anyway, so don’t be afraid to take your time. You can always cut off more if you need to, but it’s kinda hard to add hair back. When you’re done with the top, snap off that guard and brush the hairs off the razor. Now you’re ready for the next step!
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Autism: The Children Who Find Haircuts Painful
Sitting in a hairdresser’s chair may sound simple, but for a child with autism having a haircut can be painful. One barber has developed a unique technique where he will cut a child’s hair during long periods while sitting on the floor, on window sills or even in the car.
This weekend, as part of an autism awareness event, he and 11 other barbers will cut the hair of 60 children with autism.
Four-year-old Mason has autism and is non-verbal. He always found having his haircut traumatic.
His parents were at their wit’s end after trying to take him to the hairdressers.
Eventually they read on Facebook about a barber who had successfully cut the hair of another child with autism.
It took four months of hour-long fortnightly visits to James Williams’ barber shop in Briton Ferry, Neath Port Talbot, before Mason let him cut the hair around his ears.
“I had to join him lying on my stomach,” said Mr Williams. “As a barber it is unnatural to have that experience lying on the floor to cut hair as you are always supposed to stand by your chair doing it. The day that happened we were laughing on the floor doing it.
“Mason was just oblivious to everything, he was watching BBC News 15 seconds on repeat. But that was his day, another day it would have been different. He might not have let me near him on his next visit.”
He posted pictures of him cutting Mason’s hair in his shop on Facebook and it went viral, with actors Ashton Kutcher and Michael Sheen tweeting about it.
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How To Clean Up After You Cut Boys’ Hair At Home
Yay! Time for cleanup. If you took our advice and did your cutting in the bathroom, this part will be easy. While your kid showers, bring in a broom or vacuum and get all the hair off the floor.
You know those towels you used? Take them outside and shake them out, then toss them into the wash. That’s pretty much it. Your work here is done. You just saved your family some serious cash, so go you!
There you have it! A foolproof method for cutting boys’ hair at home. Give it a try, and let us know how it goes. Take a pic of your handiwork and !
And while we’re on the topic of haircuts, how often do you get your hair cut? Drop a comment below and tell us if you have any tips for making that fresh-from-the-salon style last longer!
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Hair we go! Time to start clipping!
What Happens When The Haircut Tips And Tricks Do Not Work
Speed and simplicity are your friends. There is no need for fancy haircuts, just make them as comfortable as you can and get it done. Eventually, things get better. Dont give up hope.
Some kids prefer scissors. Some kids prefer clippers, the buzzers. It depends. But generally, they do not like buzzers because they are high sensory. On the other hand, they do not like scissors as much because it takes longer and what they really do not like is the hair the feeling of a hair on their face, the tiny particles.
The main thing to remember is it is kind of sheer grit and determination. They do not like haircuts but caregivers should get them used to it. There is no magic bullet in this situation. It is just getting it done. Sometimes, you have to get help from others. So, things can be a bit better.
The neck is the most difficult part to cut. Because they scare from the sound and the touch. It causes them to lunch. They cannot hold on and sit. So, caregivers or hairdressers should be extra careful about the neck in order not to hurt them.
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Is It A Nail Cutting Phobia
In my experience, the vast number of kids that dont like to have their finger or toe nails cut arent refusing because of a nail cutting phobia. Of course its possible, but just as Jane was already suspecting, there was a real reason her son was running from the clippers, and it might be why yours is too.
Kids With Special Needs Get Special Attention
Snip-its stylists, in conjunction with Autism Speaks®, receive special training to meet the needs of children with autism. We were one of the first to provide this unique training for our stylists so coming to Snip-its is a positive experience for children with autism. Our Snip-its Haircut Guide has useful information and tips to make your child comfortable about coming to a salon. You can also schedule a pre-visit with your child to familiarize them with the salon and our stylists. Available at participating salons. Contact your local Snip-its to inquire.
Watch how Snip-its makes haircuts safe and fun for children with autism.
Watch a video about haircutting tips for families of children with autism.
Our Kids Hair Experts are Snip-its Clean! Enhanced cleaning measures are in place in each salon to keep you, your kiddos and our staff safe and ha-ha-happy during your visit. Please check the individual salon page for their specific guidelines and information.
Save time and promote social distancing by booking your SAME DAY haircut using our online check-in system. Select a preferred time that is convenient for you and your busy family. Youll get text notifications regarding your visit. Click the BOOK NOW button to get started. Online future date appointments are not available with our system.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, standard salon hours on this website may not be current. Please check Google, Yelp or social media pages for todays hours.
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Indiana Mom Says School Cut Autistic Child’s Hair Without Permission
An Indiana mom is speaking out after a school staff member allegedly cut her autistic sons hair without her permission.
My baby has beautiful curly hair, Nikki Battle told The Associated Press. Now there are patches on his head. They nicked the side of his face.
Battles son, Jonathan Battle-Hayum, is a senior at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. Battle said a staff member cut her sons hair earlier this week, telling him he would make him look fresh with a new haircut and clothing from the schools lost and found.
Im trusting you to take care of my kid, not chop off his hair,” Battle said. “Now I have to rebuild from ground zero, to give him some type of confidence. He doesnt want to leave the house.
She also told the Indianapolis Star: Were Hebrew Israelite. Youre not supposed to cut his hair.”
When contacted by WTHR-TV, the Lawrence Township school district said it was unaware of allegations around a violation of religious beliefs.
It is not uncommon for school personnel to go above and beyond to meet the needs of students outside of the classroom, the district said in a statement to The Hill. The staff member in question acted with the best of intentions to support the student.
–Updated at 2:23 p.m.