A trip to the salon can be stressful for any parent and child but for children with autism it can cause huge distress. The unknown and having to sit still can be very difficult for some. Here are some tips for you and your hairdresser to make the experience as stress free and fun as possible.
TIME - choose the time of day that your child is usually the most settled. You might want to experiment with different times until you find one that works best for your child as everyone is different. Choosing a time when the salon is quiet is a great way to limit the traffic around the salon. Late afternoon may work best.
Once you have found a routine that works then it might be good to keep this consistent and book appointments at the same time every month or however often you think a haircut will be needed. Marking it on a family calendar is a great way for some children to know the next appointment is coming.
EXPLAIN - Talk through the whole experience beforehand so your child knows exactly what to expect and you can get an idea of what areas of the appointment might be the most difficult. You could act this out at home or maybe let your child go to the salon with a family member and watch them getting their hair done so it is a very familiar environment.
When at the appointment you can ask the hairdresser to talk through what is happening to reassure your child. You can also ask the hairdresser questions that you think your child might be worried about to add further reassurance.
SALON - Finding a salon and hairdresser who understands this may be a more complicated process. You want someone who will go above and beyond to make your child feel comfortable and safe. There are so many amazing hairdressers around who are used to a wide range of clients’ needs so this shouldn’t be difficult. Let them know if you have specific requests, like the same seat and the same hairdresser for each appointment.
SHAMPOO - It might be a good idea, if your child is having their hair washed at the salon, to bring your shampoo from home as this will be familiar to your child.
FLEXIBILITY - It is great to stay flexible, especially on your first visit until you know what is best. It may be good for your child to have their hair cut sat on your knee, or while lying on the floor. It is not unheard of for a hairdresser to follow children around the salon to achieve the finished haircut. All traditions and expectations can be compromised and altered to make the experience as stress free for everyone.
DISTRACTIONS - With added noises and activities going on in the salon, this could prove distressing to your child. You may need to ask the salon to turn their music down or if that is not possible maybe your child could wear noise cancelling headphones to block out loud noises which they will find upsetting.
Bring a game or a film that they can watch to keep them distracted and focused. You could also add games into the haircut with the water spray bottle to make the experience fun and enjoyable, but some children may need it to be very calm with no fuss.
The noise of the clippers may be too much and you may need to ask your hairdresser to use scissors only.
COVER - Your child may find the cut hair on their neck uncomfortable or unsettling so try to make sure the hair falls behind them so they can’t see it. Choose a top that would cover their neck and keep it safe from the itch of those tiny hairs. You could also cover their neck with a damp flannel but you can ask your child what they would like. They may be happy for you to use a neck brush or use your hands to get rid of the hairs.
POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS - Throughout the appointment you and your hairdresser can reassure and compliment good behaviour and give positive comments when they are able to follow instructions.
TAKE A BREAK - If needed, take regular breaks and also keep explaining to the child that this section will only take 10 seconds which your hairdresser can then count down before taking a break. They will then know what to expect. Or instead, you could start a timer at the beginning of the cut so the child knows when the timer is up so is the appointment.
TREAT - Have a special treat waiting for the end of the appointment. It could be a fun activity or a sweet treat which will be a lovely reward for being so good throughout.
Donna Jackson, mum to the gorgeous Frankie, knows all too well about how challenging a haircare routine can be. The beautiful Frankie has Down’s Syndrome, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. As Denman’s Brand Ambassador, we have closely followed Frankie’s journey and are delighted that our Denman hairbrush has become ‘The Game Changer’ for Frankie and her mum, Donna <3 Read more about her story below:
“Let’s rewind back two years... I remember writing lots of blogs about hair brushing and the anxiety it gave me when it came to brushing Frankie’s hair. Frankie has Down’s Syndrome and Autism. She has Sensory Processing Disorder and hair brushing was always a hideous / upsetting experience. We were at the point of discussing cutting her hair short because we physically couldn’t put her through it anymore (or myself, I’d be hit/pinched/head butted/hair pulled) it honestly was awful.
Then my sister recommended a brush she was using on my niece’s hair (she has very curly hair) and ordered me one. It was the Denman Tangle Tamer or as I call it now THE GAME CHANGER... So much so I wrote a huge blog about it, knowing so many others went through the same process. I had tagged Denman in my story because I wanted them to see how much their brush had impacted our lives (silly eh, a brush could do that). Denman then reached out to share the story and also to ask if Frankie would like to be an ambassador for them. We were ecstatic for her. Frankie has since appeared on Denman’s page a few times, helping others with ASD/DS and SPD. We have been donated brushes and given them to our followers in need of the same help. We would never use another brush. As you can see Frankie has beautiful long blond hair, and the fact we were so close to chopping it all off, says how bad a situation we were in.
I’ve added how we use the brushes on Frankie and this is our best combination. If we can help just one other parent in a similar situation, our work here is done.
We can’t thank Denman enough for all of these opportunities including the #LovedByFrankie campaign where she was featured in Boots stores nationwide. The company promote inclusivity and diversity across their social media and have been very supportive of our family. The little touches like sending her birthday brushes...Denman YOU ROCK.”
Donna Jackson (Frankie’s Mum)
So, our advice to you is: Keep calm and trust Denman! We have got your back with a range of detangling hairbrushes – loved by Frankie <3 They have been tried and tested, and proven popular by Frankie – just ask her mum, Donna 😊
- First, let us introduce you to the D6 Handy Detangler – Known amongst our professional hairdresser and barber friends as the Be-Bop, this little brush is life-changing! Perfect for wet hair detangling and scalp massage, the D6 has flexible pins so it’s extra-gentle on the scalp. Great for those with sensitive scalps and sensory processing disorder. Now available in 4 bright colours!
- Popular with Frankie and commonly referred to as ‘The Game Changer’ by Frankie’s mum, you really need to give the D90 Tangle Tamer Ultra Mini a shot if your child becomes distressed during hair brushing. With dual-length bristles, this brush works wonders on even the toughest knots and tangles.
- Last, but by no means least…one of our personal favourites here at Denman - the D90L Tangle Tamer Ultra. As the largest Denman detangler, this brush is powerful and works its magic on difficult tangles - perfect for longer, thicker hair. For fragile hair or sensitive scalps, you need the D93M Tangle Tamer Gentle – an amazing detangler, but with the gentler touch.
Look out for web exclusive colours and prints launching regularly on the DenmanBrush online store!
For more information on World Autism Awareness Day, please visit: www.autism.org.uk