There are things that parents of autistic children avoid. Things like the automatic hand dryers in public restrooms. Roman just cannot take the sound of it. He screams, covering his ears and runs whenever we are in a restroom and someone uses one. So why would I when I can just wipe my hands on my pants, right? Then, there are things we have to do. Things like brushing teeth. Teaching oral hygiene is important. The problem comes when these two categories intersect. Yes, that means Roman needed a haircut.
His sideburns were getting way too long and it was impossible to plaster his cowlick down anymore. We have a theory here. It’s all or nothing for Roman. Since we only cut his hair every two months or so, it’s all got to go when we do. The less we have to cut it, the better. Roman hates loud noises. He hates the tickle of the clippers. He hates being restrained. All in all, getting his haircut is the worst torture he could imagine.
As I was cutting his hair, I was reminded of the mass-forwarded email I received several hundred times a few years back about how to give a cat a pill. You know, where in the end, you take the cat to the vet to get the pill and yourself to the ER to get stitched up. The haircut here is kind of like that. So, I introduce the ten easy steps to giving your autistic toddler a haircut:
1. Restrain your toddler and distract him. A booster or a highchair works well. Give him a cookie.
2. Quickly turn the clippers on and shield your eyes. The cookie is about to come flying at your face as a distractionary measure.
3. Aim your child’s head down and try to clip the back of his head first. Don’t forget to move out of the way as he tries to head butt you.
4. Grab a paper towel to take care of your bloody nose.
5. Decide to try another tactic. Clip the front of his head first. Be sure to hold on to the clippers tight.
6. Grab a bandaid and take care of that finger that was cut when you tried to catch the clippers when they went flying.
7. Catch your breath. You’ve almost made the first swipe.
8. Call your husband in for support.
9. Finally dig in and do the best you can, as quickly as you can. Don’t nit-pick. Just get it done, like, yesterday.
10. Let your toddler down, show him his new haircut in the mirror. Go to your room and cry. You deserve it.
I’m happy to report that Roman is now back to laughing, flapping his arms, and watching Caillou. It will take me the next two months to recover from this. Just in time for the next haircut.