How many of you remember feeling anything while you were washing or brushing your hair this morning. Or the sensation in your head last time you got a hair cut. If you really think about it, you may remember if the water was cold or hot but nothing too relevant. These are daily living activities that many of us do without thinking.
For many children and adults in the autism spectrum, these daily routines can be extremely overwhelming. I have to admit that dealing with Alejandro’s hair is a nightmare for both of us! It was causing me such amount of stress that one day I just decided to gave up… if you follow us on Instagram, you can see that his hair is getting longer and longer, but I don’t care because he looks so cute and I choose to think that maybe one day he will ask me to do something about it. With children in the spectrum there is always something you need to work on and it’s important to set priorities. His long hair is only harming the eyes of those who feel the need to remind me that my child is due for a haircut, but other than that, we are OK and working on some strategies.
Hair Washing: only done when is extremely necessary! This activity requires to deal with many different overwhelming things at the same time: Alejandro doesn’t like his hair wet not even under the rain, and pouring water down his head is complicated to accept; the texture and smell of the shampoo, mama’s hands touching his head, the echoic sounds from the water and the bath tub mixed with his crying and yelling… and yes! sometimes mama’s yelling in the middle of the battle when there is not enough doses of patience.
Hair Brushing: done daily at bed time and morning routine. He knows the drill: bath, teeth, hair. During our bed time routine, as soon as he finishes brushing his teeth he says: “almost done”, and repeats it over and over again to conform himself while mama brush his hair. By doing this every night I minimize the hair nots for the morning, but still, every day we have to go through the same “almost done” phase during our morning routine.
Hair Cutting: Well, this is a little more complicated. After many attempts to do it in a kid’s salon in front of many people commenting about the “show” he was putting on, or hearing people making me feel guilty with their inappropriate comments, we decided to hire a hair stylist to do it at home from time to time. It was the same struggle but at least it was in private… Every time his heart beat sky rocked and his anxiety was so painful for us that we decided to stop and just wait. Now, as part of his IBI therapy, a program is in place to help him deal with his anxiety around scissors and brushes. It is a long process but Alejandro is rocking it! now he can be in the same room with a person holding scissors; I’m sure at one point he will be able to let this person cut his hair. It could take weeks, months, years… I don’t know, but it’s OK! no rush, we are here to enjoy the journey!