Hair today… Gone tomorrow

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Yes, that sweet, badly dressed child in the picture is actually me: just a very long time ago. Note the length of my hair.

I hated having my hair cut, or touched in fact. This was at least during the 1970s, so most people had dreadful hair, meaning that I was not alone.

I had to be forced into having my haircut, generally when I could no longer see through the fringe. I hated the barbers, always fearing that they would cut me. I also hated that sitting still in a queue waiting for something I found highly unpleasant. Further to this, a stranger entering my personal space, armed with something sharp and pointy, with noises from everywhere and people I don’t know surrounding me in what I found to be a highly stressful environment was something to be avoided at all costs.

Consequently, as a child, my hair was often cut by my grandfather, who was an engineer and not a barber or hairdresser in any way, shape or form. This meant that I was less distressed by the experience of having my fringe cut (more often than not, it was as much as anyone could manage), but the reality is that had, at that time, I have had any awareness of style, the embarrassment of the hairstyle would have been mortally distressing.

I have spoken to several people with children on the spectrum and this sense of hating having a haircut is not uncommon. The National Autistic Society offers some advice here. 

Further advice can be found here.

Additionally, as awareness of Autism grows, so does the number of people who make efforts to help people to cope and lead as full a life as possible. This includes hairdressers who provide a more comfortable environment for people to have a haircut in and a simple Google search should help most people who are looking to help a child with sensory issues in this area.

Now, personally my hair, when I had some, was always very straight, which made it impossible to do a lot with, especially whilst growing up the sensory issue in this area reduced.

I found that as I was growing up, finding a hairdresser or barbers with a minimal queue to be helpful, preferably one without too much paraphernalia within my line of sight to be beneficial. It was actually rather difficult to do anything much with my hair; and believe me, I have tried.

I stuck with the same simple hairstyle for well over a decade, but it was at least short, neat and suited me, reasonably well.

I then began to become more ‘creative’ with my hair, at about the same time that it started to ‘disperse’. I had a mohawk for a while and then when the hair of the top had become too sparse, I grew the hair at the back into a cue, which was frequently plaited. Laugh, if you must but remember that ‘Hey, I’m a Goth, silly and quirky hair go with the black wardrobe and clumpy boots!’

In a similar fashion, my hair has been, black, blue-black, red (like Scarlet Red), purple, white blonde (for about ten minutes – a Glaswegian friend informed me “You look like a f*&ckin’ lightbulb!”) and on one fateful home dying event, a pinkish-gingery-blonde, best described in the immortal words of Billy Connolly as “Turkish Hooker Blonde”.

My half-brother, who is six years younger than me started to go bald far before me; the difference being that my brother had long blonde hair and is still, to this day, using a carefully haircut so as to attempt to deny what is blindingly obvious, especially on a summer’s day.

In contrast, whilst I had to invest in a hat, life without hair is far easier. It also seems to suit me and in exchange, my facial hair has been cultivated but I despise the ‘hipster beard look’ so it’s kept short and tidy. Again, the beard has allowed me some room for self-expression and has been several colours; more recently, I have embraced it more naturally and accepted the fact that white is overtaking the residual colour.

My advice is that it’s not uncommon and that there is now advice out there and people who are skilled in helping people with sensory problems involving haircuts. It’s also not something common in adults, so the key is patience and understanding. I hope that I have helped a little.

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