In the past, cutting Johnathan's hair had always been a major ordeal. He is extremely sensitive to textures, and other senses, and it just made the whole experience very painful to him as well as to everyone else involved. I used to cut it with a buzzer because although he cried and fought me the entire time, I could do it quickly, it would look decent when I was finished, and as long as I used one of the shields, I wouldn't have to worry that I might cut him if he just so happened to move in the wrong direction, which happened more often than not. Hair cutting was also a two person ordeal. We had to have one person holding him down and talking him through it, and another person cutting his hair. And forget taking him to a salon. They never would have put up with it, so we were stuck with doing it ourselves. And remember, this is all part of his autism so he cannot help being like this. Imagine what it would be like if you were very sensitive to sound, touch, etc, and you were being put through a situation where there you were being forced to sit under bright lights, being held down by another person, with a funny plastic thing around your shoulders, hair all down your neck and sticking to your face because you are crying, and listening to the buzzing noise of the buzzer as it vibrates over your head, removing something that provides warmth to your head, or listening to the snip snip of scissors. Do I have you crying yet, because I know I am bawling right now thinking about what my poor baby had to endure every six to eight weeks. And we always cut it as short as we dared without risking cutting him so that it would prolong the time in between cuttings.
Finally, during my pregnancy with Libby, he just got way too big and violent at hair cuts and we decided it was not worth the risk of him kicking, headbutting, or hitting me in the stomach and possibly losing the baby over. So, he went about 4 or 5 months without a hair cut while I finished my pregnancy and then recovered.
When we revisited cutting his hair again, I presented him with a choice. He has nice hair, and unlike his brother's, it lays nicely on his head, so I told him that we really needed to cut his hair because he was starting to look like a girl (which he didn't want to be), and that he could choose to either let me cut it with the buzzer, or with a pair of scissors. He didn't like either choice, but to him the lesser of the two evils was the scissors. They are quieter, and don't vibrate against his head. So, we put a movie on the portable DVD player for him and went to work. Corey was there the entire time to talk him through it or hold his hand if he started to get agitated while I worked. And that was the beginning of cutting his hair with scissors every six weeks. Again, I cut it as short as I dared without cutting him and still having it look good to help prolong the weeks in between cuttings. He has nice hair, and it suited him very well.
But a few weeks ago I noticed that he has horrible dandruff. He had cradle cap (baby dandruff) pretty bad as a baby and small child, and I remembered that once we started buzzing it regularly it disappeared and didn't come back. Our other alternative was to use a dandruff shampoo, but it isn't tear free, and I don't trust Johnathan's hair washing abilities enough yet to think he could do so without getting it in his eyes. Corey used to have a real problem with dandruff, but ever since he started buzzing his hair it went away and has never come back. So, I decided I'd rather deal with buzzing Johnathan's hair over stinging eyes if shampoo got into them. I gave Johnny a week or so to think it over. He has an automatic toothbrush, and uses it so I talked about how he puts that in his mouth and the sensation of the buzzer is very much like the toothbrush, and is actually a little quieter.
Then on hair cutting day, I kept the scissors handy just in case, but then turned on the buzzer. Johnny started panicking a little, but I said, "Just listen to it". And we just sat there for a few minutes listening to it, until he seemed a little more comfortable with it. And then I said "lets try touching the handle. Not the hair cutting part -- just the handle." He wasn't sure he liked that very much, but then I showed him how with the #4 shield on I could hold it against my hand and it wouldn't cut me. He still wasn't sure. I had cut Corey's hair earlier that day, but I noticed later that there were a few stray hairs that got missed, so I took the opportunity to show Johnny what I would do with it on his dad's head. He saw that it didn't hurt his dad and just cut the hair. And he finally said okay. We put in a movie for him on the portable DVD player to help take his mind off of it. He was surprised how much faster it was to cut his hair this time. There were a few times when he got agitated but we got him through it. And when we were finished he looked at himself and decided he really liked it. It's really short, and when he got up for school the next morning to find out that I wouldn't need to comb his hair that day, because there isn't enough to comb, he thought that was awesome. So, I think after 8 years, we have finally conquered hair cutting with Johnathan.
It's just one more sign to me that although, autism cannot be cured, we are beating it, and he is becoming more mature with each passing day, and is making me believe more and more that he really is going to make it and have a wonderful, successful life.