When dealing with a child who has autism, it can be the smallest of things that make you feel totally helpless.
Moose hates getting his hair cut. Way back before he was ever diagnosed, we took him for his first haircut, and he totally freaked out. They basically asked us to leave the salon (I think that saying, “Maybe you could try to trim him up while he’s sleeping,” is code for, “Please get out of here before you scare the other customers away!”), and so I was faced with the daunting task of trying to cut his hair at home.
Now, this shouldn’t have been a big deal. I’ve been cutting Ryan’s hair for over a decade, and, as Turkey has his Daddy’s coarse (although not curly) hair, I’ve been cutting his hair, as well. A few passes with the trimmer, and they’re good to go. But Moose has hair more like mine–very fine, and kind of thin. So buzzing his hair doesn’t really work, because he ends up looking like he has mange–all you see is scalp (we did try it once or twice, though).
This leaves me with traditional comb and scissors cutting. But I’m not a stylist, and I’m not really sure how to go about it. I can cut the bangs straight enough (at least as straight as I see most other children’s hair–can you ever get a child to sit still enough for it to be perfect?), but the back mystifies me. I know it needs to be layered, so he doesn’t look like he has a bowl cut, or worse, look like a girl with a bob from the back, but I don’t know how to blend the layers properly. It ends up looking very choppy, and it’s obvious that it was done by an amateur.
And that’s where I feel so helpless. I already worry about Moose standing out because of his difficulties–while children with autism don’t have glaring physical differences, they do little things that make it clear that something’s off. I don’t want him to stand out even more because he has a haircut that was obviously done at home by his not-quite-competant Mommy. And yet, I have no choice. While we haven’t ventured back to a salon since that first time, I know that at this point, it’s not even an option. He still ranges anywhere from shrieking to sobbing uncontrollably anytime a haircut is even mentioned, and restraining him is a real adventure.
I just hope that when people see him, they show a little grace in their thoughts and reactions to him, instead of thinking that his parents don’t care enough about him to get him a proper haircut.