How a haircut for mom can wreak havoc for a kid with autism is not the title of a bad B movie. In the world of autism there is sameness. They like to do the same things at the same time every day. They like things to be in the same spot. They would even eat the same thing everyday if allowed. This even extends to appearances not only of themselves but of the people around them. Change is really hard for them. They like their surroundings to remain static. It’s simply easier that way.
Madison and I have been talking for weeks about getting our hair cut. We had discovered that our hair was long enough to donate to an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer. When the original day came, we were both too sick to get it done. Then we decided to wait until after recital so as to not interfere with Madison’s hair needing to be in a bun. All of this was talked about in front of Logan for at least a month.
Logan had a friend over for a sleepover . It seemed like the perfect time to take Madison to get our hair cut. She was scheduled for her 13 year old pictures the following day . I told Logan where we were going then left with Madison to get it done before Michael got home. I reminded Logan that we were going to look different when we got home.
While getting our hair cut, Madison and I decided to get it colored as well. Me because my gray is showing. Madison because she’s young and it’s fun. My theory is that it’s only hair. It will grow back and can be recolored if necessary. I know that I have to hand over the reins to her for some decisions. I’d rather she screw up here at home where I can guide her to better choices than when she’s an adult. Besides, it’s only hair. Well, I forgot one thing. We didn’t tell Logan anything about coming home with a new color.
We went to Publix . We came home to show our boys our new dos. Grammy was at the house unexpectedly so there was that to deal with first. After getting her on her way, I knocked on Logan’s door to ask him something. The look on his face was undeniable. He didn’t like it one bit. I jokingly asked him if he was ok. His friend remarked on liking my hair. Logan said nothing. He didn’t answer my question either.
The next afternoon , after we had dropped off his friend, he looked at me. For several minutes looked at me. I said nothing. Honestly , I was driving so I didn’t notice. Finally, he said ” I like your hair style better today.” Surprised by this remark, I asked him if it was growing on him. He said “No. Yesterday you & Madison looked like hippies. I thought you might start hugging trees or something. ” I laughed out loud at the thought of anyone thinking I looked like a hippie.
In reality, it had much less to do with the haircut than the change in his environment. He had to take a day or two to regulate himself. When he was younger , it would have taken him much longer to get himself back together. In a testament to how far he has managed to come, it only took a day for him to come to terms with it. As a younger child, he would have avoided me altogether for a week or more. It is so hard for these kids to have changes in their environments.
Let’s face it . Moms have to get haircuts. Can you imagine what we would all look like if no autism moms ever cut their hair? You can help lessen the change to your ASD child by doing a few things.
- Always tell your child what you are about to do. Even when Logan was non verbal, we spoke about change to help him navigate it successfully.
- If you think your child can handle it then take him with you. Logan hates salons so that is not an option for us.
- Give him time to warm up to the new you. Give him space but always assure him that it’s still you.
- Avoid comments like “I feel like a new person.” Your child with autism thinks in black and white. Everything is literal to him. He will think you are not his mom. Believe me. That is a trail you don’t want to go down.
Ready for the big reveal? Here is Madison and I with our new shorter hair and much vibrant color. Makeup by Lissa with Younique of course. I really do feel like a whole new person. Just don’t tell Logan.