Getting a haircut might be fun and exciting for some children, but terrifying and an ordeal for some children on the Autism Spectrum. We work on this issue as well as many others within our services and encourage you to contact us now to learn more. Every child is different, so the information below is intended to help, but services from a specialist might be needed for your particular situation.
The first question to ask ourselves is often why is my child not able to get a haircut. The answer is often that they have a bad experience or fear of the items and/or sounds associated with the hair cutting process. If this is the case, we have to take a step backwards and build small steps back to the process of hair cutting. For some children, the sight of the hair clipper or scissors is enough to cause tantrum and problem behavior. This is often a sign that we have to start back at step 1.
Step 1 can differ for each child, but is often exposing them to the mere sight of the hair clippers and/or scissors. We recommend laying these items out safely near the child so that they know they are there but are not going to be used or “hurt” them. They may have a behavior or attempt to move these items, but do your best to stick to the plan. As the child tolerates these items, move them closer and closer to the child in a safe manner. Some parents use kids’ dull scissors for example. For hair trimmers we recommend doing this with them off first and then with them turned on so they get used to the sound of them. Be sure to use a lot of reinforcement and even let them play with a toy they really like that is only used during this process.