10 Top Tips For Post-Lockdown Haircuts

For many parents of children with Autism, getting a haircut can be a traumatic experience for both them and their child.  It is a task that needs to be done but the thought of it fill us parents with dread! Add in the stresses of COVID 19, the use of facemasks and visors and the situation intensifies.

Don’t worry – we are here to help!

We’ve been through many of these trips, albeit without the COVID 19 situation, and have prepared our Top 10 Tips:

#1 - Find an understanding hairdresser.  Whether you’re having your child’s hair cut at home or at a barbers or salon, talk to the hairdresser beforehand. Tell them about your child, their condition and how they may react.  Use it as an opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have. You may want to provide them with some information and give them some tips and suggestions on how to handle certain situations. For example speaking calmly and using short simple sentences.

#2 - Introduce you child gradually to the hairdresser – visit the salon and watch someone they know (a sibling, friend or Dad) having a haircut. This may be difficult to arrange given the current situation, but even walking to visit the salon and looking through the window may help. If you’ve got a really good hairdresser, they may be able to arrange for you to visit in between appointments when the salon is empty. It’s a good experience for your child to familiarise themselves with the setting, smells and where they will sit.

#3 - Prepare your child for the haircut by marking it on the calendar with a haircut symbol so they know when it is coming.   Try and book an appointment at the quietest time of the day, explaining to the hairdresser that missing the allotted time could have consequences! One good thing with the COVID situation is that most salons won’t allow people to wait inside for their appointment. This means the salon should be quieter and less busy than usual, making it a more comfortable experience for you and your child.

#4 - Use a timer at the start of the cut so your child knows how long it is going to last.

#5 - Try social stories to explain about haircuts and to prepare for the visit to the hairdresser. Introduce visual aids and discuss recent trips to explain about the use of face masks/visors and why they are used. If your child is old enough/able to wear a facemask themselves, get them to choose their favourite design beforehand, to make the experience more of an adventure and exciting for them.

#6 - Many children with autism are very sensitive to the noise of clippers.  Ask the hairdresser to use scissors only and/or use earplugs to block out some of the noise.   You could also use a personal music player/ipod with your child’s favourite music or stories to distract them and block out some of the background noise.

#7 - Fidget toys may also be useful to keep your child occupied during the haircut. A favourite toy may provide some comfort and keep them distracted. A lot of fidgets, including our Marble Maze Fidget are easily cleaned with an antibacterial wipe or spray, so it’s easy to clean them after your visit.

#8 - A weighted lap pad, jacket or hug vest could be used to keep them calm and reduce anxiety whilst in the barber’s chair. We stock a range of wipeable products that would be perfect for an outing to the hairdressers.

#9 - If your child is having their hair washed, ask the hairdresser not to use a strongly scented shampoo . You could even take your own shampoo which will smell familiar to your child. You could ask the hairdresser to use the water spray to dampen the hair, turning this into a fun activity for your child. Tip - Get your child to spray the water on themselves!

#10 - We always find a small reward like a lollipop or biscuit at the end of the haircut works wonders and can be used as an incentive for the next visit.

If you have any tips, strategies or stories which may help others please share them on our blog or Facebook page.