As the parent of a child with autism, you understand that many of the most basic errands and tasks can be a real challenge, and that often includes haircuts, at a location like Verve Salon & Spa Ltd Sherwood Park. Kids with sensory issues, like those that often come with spectrum disorders, frequently struggle with haircuts because of all of the sensory input involved. From the smells of the shampoos and styling products to the sound of the water, blow-dryer and clippers, hair salons are a sensory minefield. Here are some tips to help you ease your child into salon haircuts and reduce the risk of a meltdown.
Plan Ahead For a Smooth Experience
Make your child's appointment as far in advance as possible so that you can ensure a stylist who has experience with children on the spectrum. Then, take some time to explain to him or her what your child's unique triggers are. That way, the stylist can approach the appointment with an understanding of the types of things that your child can and cannot handle.
Take the time to help your child understand what's ahead, too. Consider some social stories that show both what will happen and how your child should handle it. If your child is a visual learner, consider using a picture book. If he or she is more auditory-driven, talk about it and read a book aloud. You may even find that investing in a toy hair salon with a doll made for hair cutting can help. That way, your child can practice the experience independently by cutting the doll's hair.
Consider Sensory Needs
You know your child's sensory triggers better than anyone else, so take some time to think about what may be uncomfortable or difficult about the experience. If you know that your child will struggle with having water around his or her face, consider bring your child in for the appointment with freshly washed, wet hair. That way, the stylist won't have to tip his or her head back into a sink. And, if you can work out any knots with a comb before going in, it reduces the risk of any discomfort.
For kids who are calmed and centered by electronics, consider bringing a favorite soothing toy. For example, a music player or smartphone make a great diversion that will help your child to get through the process with a focus on something other than what the stylist is doing.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to expose your child to the hair salon frequently, the truth is that haircuts scheduled every four to six weeks will help your child develop a level of comfort with the environment and the process. Just make sure you book with the same stylist and ensure that he or she uses the same booth each time your child comes in. That ensures a consistent process so that your child understands exactly what will happen every time.