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Written By: Katrina Mudie
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We Have Progress – Dex is five years old and has newly been diagnosed with ASD, which has explained so much of what he has been experiencing and struggling with for a long time. He struggles daily with sensory issues, so loud noises, textures and things that would normally make others uncomfortable, are very painful or distressing for him. I hope that this blog entry will relate to other mothers with children on the spectrum or those who struggle daily with tasks that most children see as second nature.
One of the things that distresses him the most is haircuts. Anyone only has to say the word “haircut” towards him, and he becomes anxious and a lot of the time will scream and hide. So for a while we haven’t even mentioned the word, never mind suggest he have one. I mean, it’s only hair right? Not a big deal if his hair is long.
Well, last night we were talking with Kingston about haircuts, and that he could have a surprise egg after his next one. Well, Dex overheard and told me that he wants a surprise egg and a haircut too. I took it with a grain of salt. If he wanted one, great! If not, fine with me too. So we spoke about it, with no anxiety and no concern except that he only wanted scissors to be used and no water spray. We looked on good Ol’ Pinterest and found a few cuts he liked. Something I’ve learned along the way of raising a child with anxiety is when you include them in the process, they feel much more comfortable and are able to feel more in control of the situation. This is definitely helps Dex every day. So off we went to bed with excitement and wonder.
The next day, we went to our local shopping centre and again, inviting him into the decision making, let him choose which salon we would go to. At first he was nervous, so we sat down in their waiting area and I told him we would just sit and look around, because he takes time to warm up to new surroundings. After about 10 minutes, the hairdresser came and spoke to us and asked Dex if he was ready for his haircut. He told her “maybe just one more minute and I’ll be ready!” I loved that he was able to verbalise his feelings and again feel as though he had control over the whole process. If he in the end decided he was too scare for one, we would’ve left and waited for another time. But after thirty seconds had passed, he decided he was ready to get into the chair! This was a HUGE deal in itself because I don’t even remember the last time he sat in a hairdresser’s chair. By now my nerves and excitement had kicked in. As they put the cape on him my heart started pounding for him. Would he start to get anxious? Would he meltdown because his little body and mind doesn’t handle these types of things well? Dex looked over at the little trolley with all their equipment and I could see in his face he was unsure. He told the hairdresser, Jess, “only scissors, OK?” And she promised him, only scissors. I could see his shoulders drop as though he could relax now.
Dex was a champion. He sat there with a smile on his face literally the whole time. He even told Jess “I need you to cut more around my ears, I want to see my ears, oh and my eyes cut more there too.” I watched in amazement and had a giggle to myself as he stated to her, quite calmly and almost like an adult, exactly what he wanted. He used his manners, he kept telling her how good it looked and when she had finished he was SO excited. He high fived Jess the hairdresser who told him how proud she was of him. I think almost everyone he told about his haircut told him how proud they were of him! And so they should be.
This little boy, who has had a massive fear of even the word “haircut” or being asked if he wanted a haircut overcame huge anxiety and sensory complications and took control of the situation. For any five year old I think that’s pretty freaking amazing. But for Dex, for who he is, this is a HUGE deal.
For him and for those who love him. I couldn’t have been prouder for the way he dealt with today.
We’ve overcame a hurdle today and we have many more to come.
But one step at a time, and this was a big one.
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