Hair cuts and nail cuttings

Please help, 

my son is nearly 4 been officially diognosed with asd just recently but for the past 2 years we knew it was heading in that direction. One thing we are really struggling with is hair cuts , we have tried everything and he just screams and gets so distressed and worked up, the same with toe nail cutting, it really stresses me and my husband out when the time comes but there is just no reasoning with our son he just does not understand, 

many help or advice would be greatly appreciated 

  • The business of 'really struggling with is hair cuts' is covered in Tony Attwood's book 'The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome' regarding TACTILE SENSITIVITY on page 291 as in part is introduced as follows:

    There can be an extreme sensitivity to a particular type of touch, the degree of pressure or the touching of particular parts of the body.

    Further on ~ on page 292:

    Particular areas of the body appear to more sensitive, namely the child's head, upper arms and palms.~/

    >(Feet can be (or are) an issue too in respect of the toe-nail cutting.)<

    /~The child may become extremely distressed when having his or her hair washed, combed or cut. Stephen Shore described his reaction to having to have a haircut as a child:

    Haircuts were always a major event. They hurt! To try and calm me, my parents would say that hair is dead and has no feeling. It was impossible for me to communicate that pulling on the the scalp was causing the discomfort. Having someone else wash my hair was also a problem. Now that I am older and my nervous system has matured, a haircut is no longer an issue.

    The experience of having a haircut can also be affected by auditory sensitivity, namely an aversion to the 'sharp' sound of scissors cutting hair and the vibration of electric clippers. There can also be a reaction to the tactile sensation of cut hair falling on the child's face or shoulders, and for very young children, the unpleasant feeling of instability from not having one's feet on the ground when sitting in a barber's chair designed for an adult.

    For me, having very short hair cuts proved to the best solution, and I love the sensation of electric clippers ~ as the vibration sedates me in much the same way some people and most pets like having their hair stroked. I also loved the sound of hair being cut by scissors, but hated the sensation of the hair tension from root to tip changing suddenly, and then there is the torture what I call the seven year itch with the hair fragments until bath- or shower-time as soon as possible.

    The thing with the toe and finger nail cutting is to do them after the softening effect of a hot bath  ~ but although it makes it easier, it is still an uncomfortably awkward undertaking, and in contrast to Stephen Shore ~ my nervous system has not matured one iota in terms of being able to cope with it. The pain of breaking finger nails, and toe nails getting uncomfortable in foot-ware or clumsily stubbing my fingers or toes became my motivation to manicure.

  • Deepthought is right in that hair cutting can be painful in that it is the pulling the scalp that is unbearable.  

    My mum has been through the same things you are going through now, where I would scream and have tantrums when having my hair brushed, washed and cut.

    I also went through a period in my teens where I cut all my hair off as my hair irritated me, but I hated going to the hairdressers regularly to maintain it.  What resulted was years of not having my hair maintained or cut.  Luckily things have got better like Deepthought, but I still hate people touching my hair unless I am prepared for having it cut and I only trust one person to do this.

    My advice would be to keep hair as easy to maintain as possible and like Deepthought suggested - a really close cut with clippers may be a solution.

    I also found being prepared to have my haircut helped and keeping it to short periods, so you may have to accept that the hair cut will not be finished in one sitting. 

    Things will get easier with time, but you will need to work on how your son is feeling as well.