Saturday, April 27, 2013

Haircuts (Life with #Autism)

Haircut - success!
Potty - success!
Bath - success!
Children crave continuity and consistency (or repetition - why they love watching the same shows over and over again) and my experience with Ben is that this is definitely heightened.

I think since the earliest days, we've taken Ben to the same place his sister and mom get their hair cut.  Geri is patient, kind and works hard to give him a great looking haircut, no matter how much he may resist the process.

I wasn't present for the earliest of the haircuts, but eventually it became my responsibility.  There was a scheduling conflict and then there was convenience and then the realization that sometimes he'll cry less for dad than he will for mom.  Probably only because dad doesn't have all those motherly hormones.  (That is, dad is mean and not as swayed by the crying.)

But so early on, it became my job to handle getting Ben's hair cut.  That meant holding him on my lap.  I remember being coated with hair and in one case, them letting me use their storage room to change his diaper and his clothes because he wasn't willing to be under the cape and he was just covered.

There was lots of wriggling, screaming, repositioning, bribing with food and drink and toys and one very, very patient stylist who has been an utter saint.  And blood.

Those scissors are sharp and he does not sit still.  There was at least one time where he got his ear nipped a little and one or more times where, in trying to quickly pull away to avoid cutting him, she cut herself.

But, wow, what an amazing difference.   Over the trips, I've been bringing fewer and fewer toys, drink and food.  I'm no longer bringing his portable chair and strapping him in, opting instead for their "booster."  It's just a piece of firm foam wrapped in leather - it works well, but it means there's not much on either side of him because it's almost as high as the arms.  I had solved by spending most of the haircut crouched in front of him with my hands around his waist to comfort him and give him a sense of security.

Today, we marched down to the car, drove to the salon, walked right in, put him into the chair, slid him to the back of the seat, made sure his hands were free of the cape, and I just sat in the next chair over and watched.  There were lots of people there this morning (usually it's quite empty when we go) so fortunately, there was no screaming today.  I think all the people also gave him more to look at besides himself in the mirror, the mean lady messing with his head and mean dad who made him come to this place again.

Truth be told, I'm not sure how much he understands, but I think he at least knows that it's not a long process and the more he sits still, the quicker it gets done.  He was very happy and chatty today, lots of smiles and looking around.  There was only one point when I had to even be involved at all - she dropped a pair of scissors and he threw his hands up to cover his ears.  I held his hands and rubbed the backs of his hands for a few minutes while she used the clipper.  He was a little fussy at that point, unsure if it was the clippers or the loud noise, but he recovered quickly and was again in really good spirits for the rest of the cut.  At one point, he dropped the one toy we did bring, but he waited patiently while I picked it up and brushed it off for him.

When we were done, we walked up to the front, I helped him onto a chair and he sat patiently while I paid, despite all the other people up there getting coffee and waiting for their hair cuts.  And he got a full, complete and great looking haircut.

And then walked back to the car, drove home and got him ready for the promised bath (he loves baths). But he instead went over to the toilet and lifted the lid and placed his potty seat on it.  So I set him on there, he used it, Lori came up and gave him some chocolate chips (a reward for using the toilet) and then he had a good bath/shower complete with hairwashing.  (That photo up there is at the end getting him all dried off.)

These are the moments I need to remember when I get frustrated -- this was such a big win today and it's so inspiring and exciting to see him exhibiting patience, calmness, bravery, understanding and self-control.
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