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7 Tips to Help Your Son on the Autism Spectrum Cope With Haircuts

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In my experience, a common issue for boys with autism is having their hair cut. Often, a hair salon is a busy and noisy environment. People coming and going can be enough to make a person with autism feel over the edge. The environment alone is just one factor, you then have the quandary of how to get them to sit in the strange chair, still, I may add, for the 20 minutes it takes to cut their hair.

Then the anxiety of how they will look different once it’s cut and looking at yourself in a mirror, topped off by the noisy clippers that come out of the holder.


The water spray, the noise, the people, the chair, the mirror, the noise, the clippers, the comb in the hair, the people, the hair dryer, the water, the talking, the mirror.

You can imagine how this could be a nightmare for a child on the autism spectrum. It can also be the parents nightmare as you struggle to cope with staring eyes, apologizing to the hairdresser as your child freaks out, screams, cries and leaving with no hair cut.

I’m not saying this isn’t an issue for a parent with a female child with autism, but a girl with long hair is socially acceptable.

I’m here to tell you it is socially acceptable for your boy  to have long hair, too.

Please, don’t resort to extreme measures of cutting your son’s hair in his sleep. Can you imagine yourself going to bed one night and waking up to your hair missing? No? Me either. In fact if it did happen to me I’d be in a police station reporting a crime. Just because you are a parent doesn’t make this OK. Your child is a person, too.

So how can you deal with your son’s hair?

Here are a few solutions:

1. Have a mobile hairdresser come to the house where you child can be groomed in a familiar environment with an iPad, computer game or favorite toy nearby — and less noise.

2. Rock the long hair look. Boys can have long hair. It’s OK.

3. Contact your local college and see if they have any adult education classes in cutting men’s hair. Then do it yourself, in your child’s own time.

4. Write a social story for your child, take pictures of the salon, the hairdresser, and prepare your child as much as possible.

5. Talk to the hairdresser, explain ahead of time the difficulties your child may have and see if you can come up with solutions together. Counting the cuts of the hair might help, or allowing the child to move freely around as they need to.

6. Investigate quiet clippers. If your salon doesn’t carry them, buy a pair of your own and take them with you.

7. Check out “autism barbers assemble” on Facebook.

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Originally published: July 26, 2017
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