Autism Haircuts Made Easy
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Do you want to know the easiest, and safest way to give your son with autism a haircut? An adult “intimacy” chair may be what you’re looking for!
Now don’t judge! All I ask is that you keep an open mind.
In my situation I my son’s behavior doesn’t allow me to search for “haircuts for an autistic child near me.” My son is simply too aggressive for such a setting. I also searched for autistic haircut videos, and turned up with methods that would help higher functioning autistic children than my son. After hitting some dead ends I began thinking outside of the box for ways to give my autistic son a haircut in a safe way, and in the comfort of our home.
To explain what I’m facing when I give my autistic son a haircut, I need to explain a little bit about what he is like. My son, Monkey, is low functioning autistic and has aggressive meltdowns. This is also true for doctors appointments, therapy, haircuts, and basically any setting where he knows he will be the focus of attention. Monkey, is becoming quite large (5’4″ @ 150 lbs.), and has plenty of growing to do before he is done.
Giving my son a haircut has always been a struggle. I give him a traditional buzz cut because I’m not talented, and because it’s the only safe option I have on the table. He doesn’t like scissors, and since he already has a false left eye, I see no reason to play roulette with the one he has left. Luckily, his hair is naturally curly, so I can get about 4 months out of single haircut before he needs another one.
When Monkey was still a little guy I could hold him in a chair while someone else worked the clippers. I would wrap him in a blanket, so he couldn’t scratch or grab. Then I would watch his head so he didn’t whip back and smack me in the nose. Despite this, I have still had plenty of bloody lips as a result of haircut time. Since he has a lot of endurance, his tantrums would last for about 30-45 minutes before we could get all of his hair cut and trimmed.
Then my son hits puberty. That’s when he went from being my little cuddle monkey to becoming a gorilla. It didn’t take long before he could reach the floor while I was holding him in the chair. This gave him deadly use of leverage through his legs, and ultimately proved to me … that he can knock me down quite easily.
Needed a new plan… so naturally, a sensual cushion/couch/ chair thing … Ta-da!!
I’m not as deviant as I may sound. My search originally started with a bean bag chair. Nowadays they are filled with memory foam, instead of those messy pellets from my childhood. It’s even quite large at 5′ in diameter (about 1.5 meters for those of you who use math based on logic and continuity):
I thought that this would be large enough. Sadly, I learned it wasn’t. There were two problems. He could still reach the floor with his toes, so the fight was easier, but not great. The second problem was that it was so soft that I couldn’t make him lay face down. If I did his face would sink in, and he could suffocate. Lucky for him, he loves the thing, so now the bean bag is his own personal couch. It was better than a chair for giving him haircuts, but still not ideal.
I liked the idea of being able to get him lying down, and still wanted that to work. So, it became a matter of getting something bigger, and made from denser materials.
And that’s what led me to sensual furniture catalogs. It was a bit more money, but has proven to be well worth the cost.
I made sure to get the wedges, as they call them. Those are the loose bits you see in the picture. Some models come without them, and I personally think it would be better to make sure that they’re included. At least the middle one that levels out the shape. The top one, I don’t even use.
What I do is lay my son on his stomach, with his chest across the taller hump (where you see the smaller pillow in the picture). Then I can have someone sit on the back of his legs, and hold his shoulders down. This takes all of the leverage out of his legs and arms. Because he is unable to get any leverage, the only part of his body that I have to wrestle is his head. By putting his chest across the peak of the hump, his face isn’t even touching the cushion, and he can breath freely. This takes care of literally every problem I faced when cutting my autistic son’s hair.
If you have trouble with controlling someone’s arms, you could still use a towel or blanket to lay across their back. This will assist the helped in keeping their limbs contained more easily. I haven’t needed to do so since his second time using it, but you may find it works better for you.
As a result of using sex furniture of all things, my son’s haircuts have become easier. This is true for everyone, including him. What previously took up to 45 minutes to complete, now takes 15 minutes at most. There is no safety risk with him flailing around, because he simply has no leverage to buck. Furthermore, he can’t scratch himself, or pinch at the person holding him down. It’s been a massive improvement to what was previously a very difficult, and potentially dangerous situation.
You can also buy just the wedges:
However, this doesn’t take care of the problem with the autistic person using their legs for leverage. It could be used on a bed , or maybe the floor with some of those foam floor tiles for padding. Either way, the wedges care sold separately and are a more affordable option. The wedges would still get the person having their haircut lying flat on their stomach, with something to keep their face off the floor or bedding. With this option I would be sure to keep their chest a little lower on the slope so they can’t hit their face on the floor if they began throwing a tantrum.
Some other good sites for tips to haircuts for autistic children check out:
Child Autism Parent Cafe: http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/haircut.html
Autism Speaks: https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/tool-kits/tips-successful-haircuts