A difficult day…

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Death by haircut

For many parents taking their beloved children to the hairdressers can be a very daunting experience. As a SEN parent it is like a trip to death row.

Kam loves having his hair cut – he has always enjoyed the attention that having a cut brings even from being very little he totally loved every single second of it. For Alfie though, it is the worst thing ever. His sensory issues cause him to go into overdrive as soon as we pull up outside the hairdressers and it’s like this every single time.

Before we became aware of Alfie’s sensory issues we used to coax, bribe, and shamefully tell him off. However, when talking to the Occupational Therapist, she explained that sensory processing issues can affect all sorts of things. The penny finally dropped – Alfie could not stand the noise, smell or the sensation of having his hair cut.

Today’s visit was like all of the previous ones; I still went through the motions of preparing Alfie for what was going to happen and of course included:

  1. The explanation – explaining that his hair will grow back,
  2. The bribe – yes we will definitely have hot chocolate and marshmallows with popcorn and a DVD as soon as we get home, I absolutely promise we will.

                                                                                                                                                             Everything is hunky dory until we cross the threshold and there’s a bit of a delay as one stylist has phoned in sick.

Waiting is another issue for Alfie, he can’t understand the concept of having to wait in turn (although he has improved over the last year – again by careful preparation). Today’s preparation included:

  • Alfie’s Leappad,
  • my tablet,
  • 2 packets of raisins and
  • a pirate reading book.

Yes, my bag resembles Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, long gone are the days of having a dainty little handbag which contained at the most, my purse, phone and lippy. I have huge handbag envy, I do kind of wish I kept my fab OiOi changing bag with its multitude of compartments; it was big but beautiful. Nowadays, our bag is just plain BIG!!

Today’s contents include all of the above plus:

  • a packet of wipes (invaluable to be honest),
  • change of clothes for both boys (hey that pesky hair can get everywhere even with the best hairdresser cloaks),
  • tissues,
  • cereal bars,
  • nappy sacks (I never quite appreciated how useful these can be – poop scoop bags, carrier bags, clothes bag, rubbish bag, shell collecting bags – the possibilities are endless!!).

Anyway, Alfie is quite content sitting next to me in the waiting area, carefully arranging his raisins in a line on “the bag”, counting them as he goes (we actively encourage counting – it’s part of our homework, along with the alphabet and to be honest it’s something that Alfie has academically improved in – hooray!!) when the kid in the seat gets his hair practically shaven off – Alfie does a double take , and panic washes across his little face when he sees the amount of hair tumbling to the floor.

I again go through the explanation and the bribe and it doesn’t really appease him this time. I make the decision that Alfie will go first – this is to Kam’s annoyance as he wants to go first as he is after all the oldest.

Alfie approaches the seat, the stylist asks him how he is and the tears start tumbling, other customers are looking and whispering – you know how it is, they are clearly judging my parental skills and clearly my child is naughty and why didn’t I just discipline him; and the stylist is in shock. I take her to one side and very quickly explain that Alfie has sensory issues and gets a sensory overload when having his hair cut.

She is actually very good with him once she has this information and talks to him in a calm and gentle tone and I am holding his hand stroking his palm trying to calm him down, however, despite our best efforts Alfie is profusely crying, screaming blue murder, wiggling and doing whatever he can to get out of that forsaken chair.

After much wrestling, he admits defeat and eventually calm down long enough for the poor stylist to cut his hair in triple quick time, (tears silently tumbling down his face), the cut is very short, but hey it’s got to last a very long time before I consider venturing again to the salon. Alfie is now very itchy and very desperate to get out, “now MAM NOW”.

After much deliberation, I take Alfie and my bag of tricks back to the car, whilst Kam is sitting perfectly nicely chatting away like there’s no tomorrow to the stylist. Incidentally, before you start phoning social services for child neglect (yes SEN parents do find that they have to justify every single action), the car is right next to the shop window and I can see everything that’s going on!!

Alfie immediately gets stripped off (note to self – the next car must have privacy back windows) – the itchiness is now unbearable, and he is scratching his skin so much so it’s red raw. The fresh clothes come out of the bag, itchy clothes are in the nappy sacks, cereal bar in one hand, Leappad in the other.

I now position myself in the doorway of the salon – in eye view of Alfie who is content playing on his game and Kam who now has a very cool looking cut – complete with gel, oops sorry Kam, I mean wax – like when did he get so big? The stylist is showing him all the cool ways he can do his hair with this wax – which the just so happen to have on sale (for a grand total of £9.95 – omg seriously!!).

So as we leave, complete with a tub of wax, all is well in the world again. That is until someone notices that Alfie has had his hair cut, which makes him either cry, hide or put his big thick winter coat on with hood up (even if its sunny and warm) or all three, we then start again with the explanation …..

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