Search This Site

Poor Personal Hygiene in Teens on the Autism Spectrum: 32 Tips for Parents

"I could use some tips on how to get my 16 y.o. teenager (high functioning autistic) to have better hygiene. His breath and arm pits stink most of the time. He hates to brush his teeth or take a shower. He doesn't even like to wear clothes (walks around the house in his boxer shorts most of the time)."

Sounds like you are going to have to assume the role of "personal hygiene coach."  Lucky you! Here are some of the main reasons teens on the autism spectrum seem to avoid practicing good personal hygiene:
  • Brushing hair or getting a haircut because they usually have very sensitive scalps.
  • Brushing teeth (e.g., not liking the taste of toothpaste, experiencing burning or stinging from it, having sensitive teeth and gums).
  • Getting dressed and feeling comfortable in clothing. Irritations can occur from loose fitting clothing touching the skin, tags or labels scratching, and clothes that are too stiff or too tight.
  • Poor vestibular system functioning means these young people often feel wobbly on their feet and suffer from gravitational insecurity (e.g., dislike of being upside-down, being suspended in mid-air or having their feet off the ground). Therefore, the simple act of bending forward or backward over a sink or in the shower can create dizziness, anxiety or mild panic.
  • Some teens on the spectrum fear falling over if they shut their eyes, thus you can imagine the potential anxiety experienced by simply washing their face in the shower.
  • Using deodorant. The shock of the cold spray on their warm armpit coupled with the quite high-powered aerosol delivery causes genuine alarm and discomfort. Most deodorants are strongly scented, which also bombards a sensory sensitive teenager.

While the typical youngster can usually master personal  hygiene skills by the time they are age 6, children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's often struggle with these tasks due to sensory issues (e.g., smells, sounds and textures) that are related to these skills. Fortunately, as they become more familiar with the tools used for personal hygiene, these tasks will be much easier.
 

Here are some tips to help with personal hygiene issues:

1. Brushing teeth is a task that can be difficult for children with HFA. The aversion problems have to do with a foreign object going in their mouth, the texture of the brush, and the taste of the toothpaste. What you may find helpful in introducing tooth brushing to your youngster is to use an electric toothbrush with a character on it that he enjoys. The vibration from the electric toothbrush and the familiar character will make this task more enjoyable. Once you overcome the aversion issues, all you have to do is demonstrate the process, have him copy you, and then narrate the steps as he tries to do it himself.

2. Have the same sex parent teach your son new hygiene practices. A man is better at teaching a boy to shave, for example, and a woman is better at helping a girl cope with her period.

3. Keep your grooming routine as stable as possible. Do everything in the same order and at the same time every day.

4. Look at a youth magazine with your son for ideas about hairstyles. Keep it simple, but not nerdy. Let him do it himself if at all possible.

5. Another challenge for teens on the spectrum is washing the underarms and using deodorant. Explain how it is done and why. Go slowly at first. You may want to let your son practice washing for a few days before adding the application of deodorant. Give him privacy if he is capable of washing himself. The simplest way to tell if he is doing it properly is the smell test. If body odor is still present, ask him to try again.

6. Repeat hygiene routines every day. Repetition is paramount. If there is not enough time in the morning, divide it between morning and evening.

7. Show your son how and where to shave with an electric razor. HFA teens that need repetition to feel secure may want to repeat the process daily, even if it is not necessary.

8. Teach and reinforce the facts about sexual maturing to your son in a way he can understand. Start adding extra steps as body changes begin, one at a time, to his hygiene routine. When he is comfortable with one step add another. There are books and classes to help you, but learning and reassurance must continue at home.

9. Teach your son how to care for his hair. This will include learning how to brush, style, and wash it. You will want to start with basic brushing and styling. If he is resistant to hair brushing, it could just be the brush you are using. You can overcome this problem by letting him try a variety of brushes to find one he likes the feel of - or the look of. 
 

10. Washing hair is a big challenge also. The aversion that children with HFA have for hair washing has to do with several factors (e.g., water temperature, the feel of water on their head, soap getting in their eyes, the texture of the shampoo, etc.). A good way to overcome these problems is to adjust various aspects of the hair washing routine until you find the perfect combination that makes the task bearable. You will then walk your son through the hair washing process.

11. Watch for early signs of adolescent changes. Do not wait until they are full blown to begin to teach good hygiene.

12. Using visual reminders/timetables to encourage the completion of daily grooming tasks can be helpful in establishing good routines.

13. Use simple clothing. Look for things like elastic waists, pullover shirts, Velcro fastenings and slip-on shoes.

14. Use a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner to reduce time spent in the shower.

15. Try to keep your son’s hair and clothing fashionable (even if he doesn’t care, his peers do).

16. Teach your son to wash his hands, especially after coming home from school or playing outside and before eating. Hand washing is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses.

17. Teach your son to cover sneezes and coughs. Germs can travel far and wide on a sneeze or a cough. Get him into the habit of covering his mouth and nose with a tissue (or his arm if he can’t reach a tissue fast enough) when he sneezes or coughs.

18. Set up regular bath times. Many moms and dads find that evening baths are a nice way to relax their teenager before bed. And bathing the night before can help ease the morning rush. Some teens prefer showers, which can also save a lot of time on a busy school night or morning. Showers can also save water.

19. Remind him to wash his hair if it looks oily, and teach him how to clean his face and under his nails.

20. Remind him not to touch his eyes or mouth or to pick his nose. Germs can easily enter the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes and through the nose and mouth.

21. Provide a soft bristled electric toothbrush and bland tasting toothpaste.

22. Minimize temperature variations when bathing.
 
==> Parenting System that Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

23. If your son has balance problems, consider a shower chair for use while washing hair.

24. If your son finds a shirt that he is comfortable in, buy a couple in bigger sizes and put them away.

25. Goggles protect eyes from shampoo and water.

26. Get him into the habit of flossing, and if he has bad breath, have him gently scrape the back of his tongue with his toothbrush. Get a fun timer to help him brush longer, like a cool little hourglass filled with blue sand.

27. Experiment with unscented roll-on deodorants or natural crystal antiperspirant.

28. Cut out tags and buy seamless socks and garments if your son is sensitive to seams.

29. Being empathetic and talking with your son about his discomfort in the grooming process will help him develop better personal hygiene habits.

30. Be sure to put down a secure bath mat to prevent any slips on the wet floor when he’s done.

31. Allow your son to try several brands of toothpaste until he finds one he is comfortable with.

32. Lastly, have plenty of patience for your son's sensory sensitivities!


Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
 
 
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

---------------------------------------------------------------

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

--------------------------------------------------------------

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

------------------------------------------------------------

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

------------------------------------------------------------

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

------------------------------------------------------------

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...
 
------------------------------------------------------------
 
A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...


PARENTS' COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Also natural deodorant crystals don't stink the place out. you use them on wet armpits so they're a good reason to have a shower first. They're surprisingly effective and last a long time.

•    Anonymous said... I posted a list on the bathroom mirror (very detailed) and insisted that he follow it every day. ie: shower, wash your hair and your private areas, put on deodorant, comb your hair, brush you teeth for 2 minutes (set a timer), clean underwear every day, etc... I also purchased clinical strength deodorant that is applied before bed and that helped A LOT!! He is now 19 and usually remembers it on his own but before he walks out the door I always say "did you brush you teeth and put on deodorant?" I am fortunate that he is not offended by these reminders. I also told him that taking a shower is a daily activity and he would just have to get used to it so that he could fit into society. Everyone takes a shower every day- no questions asked!!!

•    Anonymous said... I recently took my Aspie nephew to the store and let him choose his own deoderant. He is very proud of it and pretty much puts it on every day without being asked. He also likes for us to smell him and tell him how good he smells. Maybe letting him make a choice and making a bit of a deal out of it helped. Who knows, I just hope it lasts.

•    Anonymous said... I wish choices worked for my son I even bring up going to choose one he likes or try to pass them in the store isle and he flips out. bought the natural no smell ones and he throws them away. We have him shower every other day. One day I did laundry and only found one pair of underwear. So I confronted him about this and he padded the laundry for the next week with 7 pairs of clean underwear. Consistency is key.

•    Anonymous said... Lots of good ideas here for you. I tie some of the hygiene items to rewards. My son loves to play games and if he gets the hygiene done without too much repetition he gets extra play time.

•    Anonymous said... My aspie son, 16, loves Axe because its cool and girls like it. I got him the soap/shampoo mixed one, the deodorant, and the body spray. I stopped buying the body spray when he was using a can a week.

•    Anonymous said... My son is all about rules and lists so I had to make hygiene a 'Rule'. I use a wax pen to write his list of hygiene tasks on the bathroom mirror. He gets fined $1 if they don't happen. He has a strong aversion to anything not natural and chemical and for awhile wouldn't use products. I had him research natural products that worked. So now the entire family uses them thanks to him educating us all lol! It took awhile but now its almost a non-issue.

•    Anonymous said... My son walks round in his boxers. ALL the time! He's 20! (So does my little boy age 1 0 and nt)...my aspie son had problems with his teeth and needed a brace and when the orthodontist saw him she almost refused to put him into braces because of poor dental hygiene..he was so mortified he went completely the other way, brushed his teeth from then on perfectly and now has a dream smile...he works out a lot and can get v sweaty and be unaware of his own body smell (so I make him use a roll on deoderant and then a spray one on top!) X

•    Anonymous said... stick reminder notes up in the bathroom? Brush teeth. Wash under arms. Use deodorant etc...

•    Anonymous said... We had the same problem with our daughter, we got help from our local autism outreach worker who came out and had a personal talk with her and touch wood so far it's worked, the only problem my daughter had was with spray deodorants where she would spray but it wasn't going under the arm so I got her a roll on and she now smells sweet

•    Anonymous said... we had this issue in working with our behaviour therapist we chose the most important task to challenge first and focus on then listed the others below. My son was on a token program where he got tokens of different colors each day to trade in for something he liked then at the end of the month we tallied them all and if he was in the big range he got a bigger treat. Predetermined in the planning phase. It takes a while but it did work. We are still working on brushing teeth it is coming. We go to the dentist every 6 to months for a cleaning to ensure we are OK. Hope this helps.

•    Anonymous said... also glad it's not just mine, I did get him a onsie which he likes enough to wear all the time instead of walking round in boxers (with a fleece blanket tied over one shoulder like some sort of roman toga when it's cold) but I have to kidnap it when he's sleeping to wash it, again, it's that old chestnut of 'no honey, you can't go on playstation til you've had a shower/brushed teeth etc'

•    Anonymous said... OMG..I thought it was just me! He was diagnosed 6mths ago...now 20yrs old...now showers 5 out of 7 days a week. But through his teen years...geez!

•    Anonymous said... Your not alone, I'm in the same boat but that's what's so funny. When you hear someone going through the same thing you gotta laugh and have a sigh of relief your not insane. I do have to check with my son every morning and tell him to shower, lucky for me he does not give me a hard time but if I forgot you can Smell him as he goes by and basically I have him stop what he's doing and take a shower right then and there. How about good old fashioned bribery. My son loves his Star Wars tee shirts and such. Maybe if you cant find stuff like that he would love to wear, especially when they think its funny ,he'll take a shower to wear one. The teeth...that's a tough one. I have three other grown NT children and everyone of them gave me a hard time about that, it's a Teenage thing. They all out grew it.

•    Anonymous said… We have a laminated list in the Bathroom and Kitchen because we felt we were always nagging..".have you cleaned your teeth, have you washed your hair and had a shower today"!! Now we just say have you checked your list today hun and she goes off and does it...seems to be working so far!!

•    Anonymous said… That's my son! Lists work great. If its not on his list it won't get done. I write with a wax pencil his hygiene tasks on his side of the kids bathroom mirror but in questions. 'Did you brush your teeth?' 'Did you use Deodorant?'. Not to single him out I do the same for his sister on her side. It helps. I just wonder when he grows up will he still need a list?

•    Anonymous said… That's my son too! Holy cow. I thought he was just being lazy. He refuses to take more than one bath/shower per week, so I let him get away with that one AS LONG AS, he washes at the sink every day - and yes I have to stand there and watch. Also have to check on him when he's brushing his teeth, otherwise he'll do a quick "brushover" and say he brushed his teeth. ugh. We started with the deodorant almost 1 year ago (he's 12), still have to remind him every day.

•    Anonymous said… I just took my Aspie nephew to the store and allowed him to choose his own deoderant. He is so proud of his choice, pretty much puts it on by himself every day and loves for us to smell him after he does. Maybe making it his choice was the key. I'm not sure.

Post your comment below…

Meltdown-Free Haircuts: Tips for Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

“Our 4-year-old son (high functioning) refuses to let us cut his hair. Even the mention of it causes him to start to meltdown. He’s starting to look like a girl. We’re a bit desperate at this point. Any advice?”

Cute kid ...are you sure you want to cut his hair?  Just kidding!  Here are a few ideas:

1. Allow your son to give an old stuffed toy or doll a haircut while his hair is being cut. This may help him learn to generalize the experience. You or the barber can also use the stuffed toy to demonstrate what it is you need or expect your son to do (e.g., act out directions to 'turn your head to the left' or 'look down').

2. At home, use this opportunity to teach other daily living skills, particularly hygiene and grooming. For example, your son may learn how to undress/dress, shower or take a bath independently, run his own bath water at the right temperature, wash his body properly, determine how long to stay in the shower or tub, clean the shower/tub, put his dirty clothes away, use deodorant, choose an appropriate outfit to wear, etc.

3. Be sure your son has a cape, sheet or towel draped over him. Most kids on the autism spectrum hate having hair fall on their face, body or clothing.

4. Buy a good quality home hair-cutting kit. Look for clippers with blade guards to avoid cutting the hair too short.

5. Develop a routine for haircuts. Try to schedule them for the same day of the week and time of day whenever possible (e.g., every other Saturday at noon).

6. Edge the front, sides and nape of the neck first for a 'shape-up' -- then cut the hair. Should your son not tolerate a haircut before you or the barber are done, a shape-up will give him a clean, fresh haircut look, even if the hair has not been entirely cut.

7. Explain to your son exactly what you are planning to do during the haircut. Use short sentences and/or visual supports using personal pictures or icons. Take a picture while your son is getting a haircut. Take a picture of all the items used. You may also use icons or PECS.

8. Focus on the task at hand. Try to cut hair as fast as you can without rushing. Do not dawdle. Try not to stop cutting hair to talk to others, in person or on the phone.

9. For a youngster that is sensitive to the buzzing noise of the clippers or the repeated 'snap' of the scissors, try using soft, flexible ear plugs. Also, consider singing a song or playing some of his favorite music.

10. Lessons and tasks on daily living activities may be expanded in time as appropriate. For example, your son may help put items away, clean and oil the clippers, sweep or vacuum hair off the floor, or put their dirty clothes and towels in the hamper or washing machine.


11. Observe your son while cutting his hair. Is there anything in particular he dislikes or finds intolerable? If so, try to make it better.

12. Once the haircut is done, admire your son's clean-cut appearance. Show him how he looks in the mirror. Take before and after photos so he can see the benefits. Use this opportunity to begin to teach him how to comb and brush his own hair.

13. Reassure your son during the haircut. Explain each step of the way in a slow, steady voice. Let your son know that the end is near. This step may be faded out gradually as he becomes familiar with the process.

14. Remember to give your son a reward or bonus that he will enjoy. Give him a choice for his bonus. A reward or bonus will show him that, although we must do unpleasant things sometimes, at other times we get to do things that we enjoy.

15. Schedule a haircut when your son is least likely to be 'sensory overloaded' or feeling overwhelmed by the information he is taking in through the five senses. Try to avoid scheduling haircuts after school or when your son is ill or tired.

16. Take each haircut session one at a time. Observe your son, take notes if necessary. You will learn more about your son each time.

17. Think of a few activities, toys or food your son really enjoys to use as his special reward or bonus.

18. Under supervision, allow your son to handle the clippers and other items used for the haircut. At home, allow him to help you prepare for it. For example, he gets a towel, and the comb or brush. Teach him how to clean the clippers (e.g., brush off any loose hairs from the blade and oil the clippers). This can be a good motivator, and it is fun.

19. Unless your son is better able to tolerate a haircut, keep his hairstyle simple. For example, 'fades' and 'parts' may take longer to cut. Try the 'Caesar' style which is a low even-blended cut all around the head.

20. Use unscented shampoo and conditioner if your son is sensitive to smells or odors. Before you begin a haircut, wash the hair to remove any hair products build-up. Cutting clean, dry hair with clippers is much faster. The hair will cut easier. Some kids on the spectrum do not like having their hair washed.

21. Share the video below with your child:




More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

 
PARENTS' COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said...  i know how you feel i cut my son's hair for years I took him to hair dresses and it was awful now i tell him a week before i do it, he sits on the table and slowly cut with scissors ( im not a hairdresser by the way) and just cut the long bits off first time i did it i managed about 5 mins now after about 18 months he will sit for 20 mins and it not brilliant but so much better before. He watches whatever he wants and has a lollypop afterwards. But i will say remind him everyday he will get it will it doesnt hurt show him the sciissors etc good luck x
•    Anonymous said... A social story?
•    Anonymous said... Becci, I've never seen this question posed as a "hygiene" issue re: girls who don't want haircuts, and she specifically said he is starting to "look like a girl."
•    Anonymous said... Bribery works for my aspie son
•    Anonymous said... Bribery. Simple:) Anything he wants, but, he only gets it when the cut is completed. Something tangible, have it in hand and show him. Good luck. Try a few snips at home to show him it doesn't hurt. Perhaps have someone come to the home to do it. My son hates the clippers. Be firm. he will walk on you forever if not. He looks cute btw:)
•    Anonymous said... Bribes work well, to get them over the agonizing hump. I have come to embrace bribery as an important tool in dealing wirh my sons challenges.
•    Anonymous said... Can he tell you what the reason behind not wanting his hair cut is? Once you find the source of the fear you have somewhere to start.
•    Anonymous said... Deep scalp massage before the haircut works for my son
•    Anonymous said... For my kiddo it's the noise, combined with a general fear of being cut. Earbud headphones with kids music have helped with the noise problem (they don't really get in the way, and the music helps him stay calm by distraction). When it comes to the fear issue, we helped him get over it using semantics. It was no longer a hair *cut*, but a trim, or a buzz. It still bothered him at first, but he was much more willing to try when "cutting" was taken out of the equasion. On the other hand, theres absolutely nothing wrong with him having long hair. My little guy just doesn't care for it. Make sure your little one isn't objecting simply for choice of style. He may have an opinion on how he wants to look, but not have the words to say so. Good luck
•    Anonymous said... Have you tried one of those dun places for kids??
•    Anonymous said... I am talking about my son. He is 12 and has outgrown it for the most part.
•    Anonymous said... I cut my sons hair. It's a struggle, but we get it done. We have 2 types. The whole head and just the sides and back. I ask him a few days in advance, and everyday leading up to the cut, so he knows it is coming and I let him know which cut he is getting. We also do it just before bath time so he can jump right in and get cleaned off.
•    Anonymous said... I finally had success doing haircuts in the bath or when my son was absorbed in his favourite tv show. Unfortunately hair salons remained a no-go zone for many years due to the sound of dryers, clippers & phone ringing. Hairdressers who come to you are worth their weight in gold - not as rushed, patient & all in familiar surroundings - home! Hang in there xo
•    Anonymous said... I found a barber shop where the buzz clippers had a vacuum attachment. No hair fell on my son. Other times he played video game or watched a movie while his hair was cut.
•    Anonymous said... I had to bribe my son some times.. other times I choose my battles. He is almost 13 and I let him choose his own hair as long as he keeps his grades up. He has been teased in school for looking like a girl. His choice, I tell him
•    Anonymous said... I have a 16 year old who has longer hair than me....its a hypersensitivity, change and security thing. As they grow, you learn what to 'let go' of as not 'really' important in the scheme of things. Its only hair, its part of them and I'd rather have a happier kid than traumatize them for societal or our judgement of what is normal...who wants to be a sheep anyway? ( I am saying this with good intention and lots of experience) so I agree with Jo.....let him be and you can all be happy
•    Anonymous said... I have to say that I am quite surprised that so many people on this page are being so vehemently judgmental. This child has parents who clearly want to cut his hair or at least make the process (something that we all have to do at some point) less traumatizing for him and they have a right to do that. How about we make the effort to be helpful and refrain from mocking them for making their own decisions. For some this can be a real problem considering a great number of our boys don't like personal hygiene and long hair can pose a problem if they won't let you wash it! I am in the group of parents who started early familiarizing him with the beauty shop and then making sure I took him to someone who wasn't nervous to trim a child was important as well. There have been times that my kids wanted longer hair like their friends but then there are times that it really needs to be cut. My advice to these parents would be to take it slow and ease him into it and he will get there but if you force it he will always be resistant to it. I'd also like to ask everyone else to try to be supportive as a community instead of putting down parents who are already under the stress of having to figure out how to best handle situations that wouldn't be an issue for parents of neuro-typical children.
•    Anonymous said... I learned to cut hair. we do it in sections, a little bit over two or three days. Its fine if you want him to cut his hair, there is no need for you to feel bad because you want him to have shorter hair. I realize you have to pick your battles (there are so many battles) but the fact is youre his mom and he needs a haircut. He is going to need to learn to tolerate it at some point.
•    Anonymous said... I sat on the floor with my son, about the same age, and cut his hair while watching his favorite cartoons. It took quite a while but we had an nice little boy cut in the end. After he got it cut the first time he would come ask me to cut it.
•    Anonymous said... I started by snipping bits of wet hair off in the bath while he was playing with his toys, and slowly progressed from there.
•    Anonymous said... I was able to find a cutter that my boy liked where he would not sit for anyone else. So, try different places and see if your child will "warm up" to a cutter.
•    Anonymous said... I'm sure he doesn't look like a girl, but a boy with long hair!,,, they learn sense of self worth from you, so chill. Does it matter what anyone else thinkS?
•    Anonymous said... It's you who has the problem with ridiculous gender norms, not your kid. Let him wear his hair the way he wants.
•    Anonymous said... Let him make he choice. My aspie donated 16" of gorgeous long hair when he was 9.
•    Anonymous said... my 11 year old son won't let us cut his hair either. He explained to me that he didn't care if people thought he was a girl because he knows he's a boy. He said to me, "Mom it's not your hair, it's my hair and i want it like it is."
•    Anonymous said... My 9yo is the same way. I just figure it is his head, so he can have it as he likes.
* Anonymous said... My 6yo doesn't like it long but doesn't like it to be cut. So we spend a few days prepping him, then cut it with scissors. I cut as much as I can the first day while momentum is high, then finish the next day. Again, with lots of verbal prep.
•    Anonymous said... My kid did the same...I started with just putting the clippers not running closer and closer to his head...letting him handle em and "play" with them to familiarize himself with it. My sons hair grew half way down his back twice before 3. He turns 3 next Tuesday. If clippers scare start with buzzy electric tooth brush. And scissors. Do a piece a day if ya gotta. BUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH LONG HAIR? I don't think I would say he looks like a girl, that's your perception bc you in your culture associate long hair with feminist ways. Many warriors and cultures cherish long hair. Sounds like your more worried about what people think than what works best for him. If he likes his hair that's all that matters.
•    Anonymous said... My son (12 yrs) is the same. He has never been to a barber. Periodically his hair irritates his face and he consents to a cut. If you associate with hippies like I do it won't matter - men and long hair are a dime a dozen
•    Anonymous said... My son had hair to his waist by time he was 7. It's an unfortunate cultural idea boys look like girls when they have long hair. I figured as long as my son was comfortable, I would be too. When he was 8, he decided to have a hair cut.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 11 now, but used to have this problem. He said it "hurt" to cut his hair. It could be a sensory thing there...for a while he only let them use scissors, then it was only clippers, and now he's over it, though he still doesn't like it and complains for hours after that he's itchy (even after showering). Have you tried taking him along with a friend? Sometimes peer encouragement is helpful. Or perhaps you can just trim it at home until he's ready.
•    Anonymous said... My son is 6 now and was always terrified of getting a haircut..finally I started doing it myself right before or after a bath...he didn't like it at first but we had to use some bribery the first time and gave him a little Mario brothers toy to get him past the fear the first time...he still fussed about it but improved every time. After he was comfortable with me doing it we took him to a great clips, the hairdresser let him hold the squirt bottle and he was so distracted spraying the bottle that he didn't care about the haircut. Yes it was a wet mess, but he got his hair cut without a meltdown and has been fine with haircuts ever since. We don't let them use the clippers or hairdryer and he doesn't like the apron so we just take a change of shirt for when he is done. It takes time to get them there but it can happen!
•    Anonymous said... My son is the same so we are just gonna let him tell us when he wants it cut. He's 9.
•    Anonymous said... My son is the same way only he doesn't like the feel of hair (even his own). It makes his head feel itchy to the point he scratches holes in his head. But, he doesn't like his hair cut...yeah, talk about a catch 22. What we do is find something on the computer to watch and put ear phones in his ears. He watches something with a towel around his neck while I quickly shave off his hair. When I'm done he hops into the shower right away to wash off any stray hairs that got under the towel. This is the most successful way so far.
•    Anonymous said... My son is the same way, and nothing could convince him to cut his hair until he was ready. He'll grow it for a year or two, until it's really long, and then one day he'll want it cut and I have to act FAST before he changes his mind. You might think it looks bad, but there are so many more important battles you'll face. I'd let this one go.
•    Anonymous said... My son is the same way...I am a hairdresser and cut my families hair... I let him grow it in the back..he has a mullet that he LOVES (me not so much) but he is happy. When I had kids in my chair that were a little "difficult" I stayed calm and cleared off my station, handed them a squirt bottle that they could squirt them selves in the mirror with...or me... this seemed to do the trick in a lot of the cases. I am also a firm believer in bribery! That seems to work every time
•    Anonymous said... My son just turned 14 & we have always had a battle with this one. He also said it "hurt". All these suggestions are great & did help @ times. A month ago, he had his 1st haircut that he didn't complain about. For the last several years I have taken him with me when I get my hair done. He got to know everyone. He actually asked my hairdresser to do his. She took her time, washed it first massaging well. He told her how he wanted it. I made a point to keep my interest in a magazine as I was under the dryer. He did great & can't wait to go back. We did have to come straight home so he could shower. He also has never liked his nails cut. He is now doing them although they get kinda long before he will trim them. My son matured early & has had extreme body odor & never did baths or showers well. We finally got a prescribed deodorant that has helped tremendously. I got an electric razor for him to use to shave with knowing a regular razor would be totally not doable. He played with it for several months taking it apart & even spent a couple sessions with his therapist. The therapist would bring his razor and they shaved together. We discovered he will use the trimmer better than the razor with the circle blades. Everything just takes trial, error & lots of patience with our kids
•    Anonymous said... My son used to complain that the SOUND of his hair being cut hurt his head. He had long hair for years before he finally decided it was okay to cut it.
•    Anonymous said... My son waa afraid because he did not like the noise the clippers made, so it took us doing it at home and having him put his fingers in his ears. He is now 15 and he does just fine. it took us a long time to have someone else cut it. We also let him hold the clippers and test on his arm.
•    Anonymous said... My son was like that too for a very long time, then after a few years we used the whole "look daddy is shaving his hair and looks soooo cool" and then he wanted to look like daddy, sometimes we wouldnt be quick enough and only get half his head shaved before he would change his mind, so i would have to wait till the following day to finish it off
•    Anonymous said... My son was the exact same way. He didn't like the sound of the clippers. So we started taking him to a barber and only use scissors. It was less stimulating for him.
•    Anonymous said... Never ever use clippers or a razor. Once we stopped letting the barber use them he calmed down a little. Also had to tell them not to brush or comb against the way his hair lays naturally. He would scream that it hurt when they did.
•    Anonymous said... oh no, he looks like a girl!! the horror!!
•    Anonymous said... our son is 14 and just got his first real boy haircut. Pick your battles. He got mistaken for a girl all the time. I took him to the hair dresser to visit lots because he had a lot os fears and didn't like the sound of the scissors. Find a hair dresser he likes and stick with her. Ours used a portable DVD player and treats and a lot of encouragement certificates ect and now no big deal although he still holds my hand and only goes 2 times a year. Hope this helps
•    Anonymous said... Reward, A BIG REWARD. I bought my son a brand new video game, of his choice.
•    Anonymous said... There are quite a lot of boys with longish hair these days... I would be tempted not to say to him he looks like a girl, as this might add more to an anxiety. In the end, like with so many things, the less something is a battle, the better. He might change his mind by himself... school holidays ahead, in a few weeks time, the crisis might be over.
•    Anonymous said... this last time i put on a show that really engaged him and sat behind him. i told him before what was going to happen but as long as he continued to just sit and watch the movie everything would be fine. It took about 45 mins to get a decent cut but way less of a meltdown situation. Hardest part was near the front of his face. by that point i brought in treat reinforcements for sitting.
•    Anonymous said... This looks like helpful advice & gives a window into the viewpoint of Asperger children who have sensory hyper-sensitivity. BTW, my ed. psych prof was just saying that many movie theaters have showings for special needs children in which they lower the sound. The intense volume of some theaters is upsetting to some. (remembering when we had to leave a loud circus)
•    Anonymous said... To start my son off we took him to a place that put kids in trains/planes then after the cut they could jump into a ball pit. They gave him bubbles to blow too! (Distraction was the key) OH..and bribery works too!
•    Anonymous said... Try cutting it while he is asleep
•    Anonymous said... We had the same issue with our son and discovered that he just didn't want US to do it. We found an amazing hairdresser by sheer luck that would ease him into the chair, let him have a sucker (had to keep rinsing it off though lol) and she didn't use scissors, only the buzzers which she would say "I'm gonna tickle you!" He thought that was cute. When we moved, I took him to a kids cuts place and that hair dresser had a very cold personality and super loud voice. He tore that place up trying to get out. Took him to another place to try again later, a cost cutters in a mall and found a lady he didn't react that way to. So for our son I think it has more to do with voice tone; feeling comfortable and safe with who is doing it in addition to all the sensory stuff.
•    Anonymous said... We had the same problem. It turned out that Eli was terrified of the electric clippers. We found a nearby SuperCuts that will agree to use scissors only and now we put the haircut on the calendar in advance, remind him the day before and in the morning. Before we leave we let him know that if he's calm and doesn't have a meltdown, he can choose a treat to afterward, but if he doesn't keep calm, he will have his electronics taken away for the rest of the day. We've been successful about 4-5 times in a row now!!!
•    Anonymous said... We went through the same thing with our son and it took time to get passed it. We found a barber that he seemed to like and would bring his favorite toy and treats with us to try to help distract him. It took a few trips of visiting the same barber regularly before he started to calm. He's now been going to him for just over 2 years and toys and treats are no longer needed. We still stop in if we are in the shopping center just so he has the chance to say hi, once he started thinking of him as a friend he started to trust him so he no longer had a problem with being touched.
•    Anonymous said... We went through this when my aspie son was about four. He hated haircuts because he was afraid of the hair dryers and the clippers that they used (he hated the buzz and the way they tickled). Once I started explaining his fears things gradually got better. Now he will get a haircut with no problem, still not his favorite thing in the world, but he has learned to cope, even with the clippers. He is seven now...good luck!!
•    Anonymous said... We've been dealing with this for a few years. My son also says his hair hurts to be cut. In addition, loud noises are terrible for him, so we have to avoid the clippers that buzz in his ears, and the "fun kid salons" are not possible for us because they're too loud. When he was younger I trimmed his hair when he was in a bath (as another poster mentioned), but lately he's agreed to go to a salon, as long as they know from the start not to use trimmers and then I tell the stylist what to expect (lots of complaints, moving around, etc.) it's important to instruct the stylist that a perfect haircut is not necessary -- just cut it as best as they can while he's moving and complaining. I've lowered my expectations and now we're all happy!
•    Anonymous said... And of course with aspie kids, their refusal to comply with things they have to do, is a challenge!!!... I am trying to teach mine, in some things we have to do, if we want to do it or not...that's life!..as brushing his teeth, he has to do this!..there is no choice not to!.. So, I tell him to find a way to deal with it, count numbers, sing, humm, whatever helps him to get through it!..progress will happen!
•    Anonymous said... And what's wrong with "looking like a girl"?! However... my ASD son also hates having his hair touched, brushed, cut etc. It's a constant battle. He has asked that it's dyed pink soon, once he leaves school. He, like many, many other autistic people, doesn't subscribe to gender stereotypes.
•    Anonymous said... Associating long hair with a gender is a cultural stereotype, and autistic children (and adults) are above that. Forcing them into these stereotypes is part of breaking their spirit.
•    Anonymous said... Here's my handsome 8 year old with Aspergers. He HATES the clippers but can handle a trim with scissors. I just remind him that long hair (especially curly!) requires care. Washing and brusing/combing. Sofar this has been more tolerable than a haircut!
•    Anonymous said... I cut hair...and my son was the worst customer I ever had...lol...it's the sensory issue they have that makes it so difficult... My son is 5 now, and about a month before his 5th birthday, we had success!... He asked me crying, if I could cut it "tickle over comb"...which is really a cutting technic for "clipper over comb"...he just associated the buzzing clippers with tickles, and is OK with that... So I of course did it "tickle over comb" for him...lol...around the side and back...and cut the top with the shears, which he is OK with that...He never liked the sound of the shears around his ears or neck, or the slightest touch to his skin with the shears, would send him into frantic meltdown mode...so I can use shears on top, to pull up his hair with my fingers to cut and have to use clipper over comb for sides and back...Good luck!!!!!
•    Anonymous said... I cut my sons hair as well and it takes a week to convince him, but he always succumbs. Sometimes it takes money. He is 16, so it effects his facial acne too. Even with all those factors we have to convince him. I wish he would realize how easy it is to not have so much hair because washing and brushing it takes a lot more shampoo and time.
•    Anonymous said... I had this with my 14 year old son for years & still he hates getting it done but sadly I had to b honest with him & tell him that his hair didint suit him long & that I didint want him getting bullied for it sadly children can be cruel & life is hard enough for them my son has aspergers & enough struggles without standing out because of long hair that did not suit him either my son now goes but I have to prepare him a day or 2 b4 hand that he needs to get his hair cut & also I tell him that after I will give him money for his favourite sweetie or can of juice this helps encourage him have u tried maybe having some1 come to ur home to do it? Sometimes the crowds & strangers can be scary for these children hope u find a solution xx
•    Anonymous said... I had to cut our sons hair and use a distraction. He said it hurt to cut the hair and his nails. I did not take him to a barber until he was 11. Now at 13 he is totally fine with it all and is not sure why he was so afraid when he was younger. Compromise carefully and patiently, I find that at 13 my son is beginning be easier with all these things and I think it is because we tried to reduce drama/trauma and be patient and respectful. One time it took me more than 1 hr to get a splinter out if his finger.... Slow and patient. Keep encouraging them that they are ok, that they do not need to be afraid. You will protect them and not purposefully hurt them.
•    Anonymous said... I have a like minded 6 yr old son, new things or things that pushes him out of his comfort zone or a tedious challenge and can take quite a while before he accepts the thing in question, I find by putting the ball in his court and letting him take an element of control and letting him come round to doing such things of his own decision gives him confidence, eventually he'll be having a good day and decide to go for it happily coz he wants to instead of it turning into a dramatic emotional battle, take a step back be casual and introduce going to hairdressers with family and friends as much as poss, eventually he'll decide he wants a haircut too wen it feels right for him, then that should be problem over n next should be straightforward like ther was no issue in first place, I've used this strategy quite often, it works for mine, good luck
•    Anonymous said... I have the same issue with my boy. He gets so upset and anxious at the thought of the hairdressers. I invested in a clipper set and do it myself at home. Still not keen but will tolerate it.
•    Anonymous said... I was reading somewhere there is a good hair dresses near or in tinlids. Haven't been but reviews seemed good. I'll see if I can find the link.
•    Anonymous said... I wouldn't use the stereotype that he looks like a girl to dissuade him. Try just using a scissors. That's what I did with my son and he allows that.
•    Anonymous said... My 10 year old daughter with Asperger's hates brushing her hair, won't let many brush it either  Hair cuts are ok for us, but we r lucky if she brushes her hair or teeth more than twice a week  I would try asking him to cut his own hair. Give him the control his anxiety needs him to have over the situation. Just my humble opinion. Good luck!
•    Anonymous said... My 14 year old still hates haircuts. I have to give him a few days warning then add a bribe. I cut it at home because he hates when the hairdresser tries talking to him. By doing at it at home we avoid that portion. He says it hurts when his hair is touched let alone clipped or cut.
•    Anonymous said... My Aspergers son and I would compromise a little. I cut his hair at home with clippers, but would let him watch his favorite show on TV or iPad. I would just minimize the amount of time with clippers and try to scissor the rest. And if you miss some spots, just snip them later now and then when he is doing an activity he is involved in. Long process, but it works for me. After he saw the clippers didn't hurt him it became easier he is 8 now. I started using clippers about 3-4 years old. He would want to hold them and see how it worked before he would RELUCTANTLY let me use them. It still can be a challenge though. I usually give him a few days to a week warning that he will be needing a haircut so he can prepare himself.
•    Anonymous said... We also have a son nearly 15 he wasn't diagnosed until he was 11 we could never understand y he hated his hair being cut let alone brushed etc.. When he was younger like everyone above we did it at home with scissors only and it would take us weeks to convince him and always with a bribe as he got older we took him to hair dressers but would tAke us nearly an hour just to get him in the room then another hour in the chair (they were very understanding when we explained our situation to them) he now has a regular hair dresser that he sees and will only go to that one.. When he was younger he used to work himself up that bad he would get big red welts where his hair landed on him so we used tissue paper and lots of baby powder so his hair wouldn't touch his skin.. And always had to have a shower straight after.. When he was little I even cut his hair while he was having a shower to prevent it touching him.. It does get easier but it has been a long 14yrs to get to where we r today.
 

Please post your comment below…

Avoiding Meltdowns at the Dentist: Tips for Parents of Kids on the Spectrum

"My  son would rather have a mouth full of cavities - and the pain that goes with it - than go to the dentist. Are there ways to help a child with high functioning autism to become less fearful of dental work?"

Young people with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's (AS) have the same rate of dental problems as the general population. As hard as it is for most kids to go to the dentist, it’s even harder to have a positive dental experience for kids on the autism spectrum. Even so, there are some things you can do to improve the dental experience for your child.

Below are some tips. Some will work - some won't. But everything here is worth a try:
  1. Visit the dentist’s office before an actual visit.
  2. Have the child touch the equipment.
  3. Explain to the child what will happen.
  4. Have the child bring a comfort item like a favorite toy or blanket.
  5. It is a good idea to have a gradual and slow exposure  to the environment of the dental office so your child doesn’t get frightened by the experience.
  6. Make sure you tell the dentist how best to handle your child.
  7. Tell the dentist what works and what doesn’t work when working with your child.
  8. Remind the dentist that children with HFA and AS are more easily overwhelmed by an overload of the senses, which can over-stimulate the child.
  9. Ask that the dentist keep the chaos in the office to a minimum.
  10. Make the child’s first visit to the dentist positive and short; have the dentist count the teeth or something else innocuous.
  11. Ask that the dentist approach the child as quietly and as non-threatening as possible.
  12. Have the dentist explain everything to the child and show the child what’s going to happen before actually doing it.
  13. Praise the child for acceptable behavior and have the child sit in the dental chair for awhile so he/she can become accustomed to it.
  14. Kids with HFA and AS want to know what’s coming next without having to be surprised, so have the dentist tell the child where and why he needs to touch the child, especially if you’re dealing with dental equipment.
  15. Ask that the dentist talk calmly and avoids words that have double meanings; these children take everything literally, so it’s important to say exactly what you mean.
  16. Ask the dentist to start the exam using only his/her fingers.
  17. Ask the dentist to avoid shining the light in the child's eyes.
  18. Using a toothbrush to examine the teeth is a good idea because it’s a safe, familiar item. The dentist can use a dental mirror after that.
  19. Ask if you can hold your child’s hand during the dental examination.
  20. Anything that is familiar will make for a good experience.
  21. Some Aspergers children respond well to being lightly wrapped in a small blanket during the examination. In other cases, the child will need sedation or will need to undergo general anaesthesia in order to accomplish any significant dental work. General anaesthesia is especially important in older children that don’t respond well, even to light sedation.
  22. Lastly, you may want to have your child view the social story in video format below and see if it might help alleviate some anxiety as it relates to dentist visits. This is a true story told by an autistic child himself.
Good luck!





More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


PARENTS' COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... A pediatric dentist. An ultrasonic toothbrush to minimize need for dental work. Alpha-Stim for anxiety.
•    Anonymous said... find a hygenist and dentist that will take the time to work with your child not against them
•    Anonymous said... I agree find a dentist & hygenist that are willing to take the time that's needed with your son. We were referred to a pediatric dentist who specialized in special needs children...let's just say that this man shouldn't be allowed to work on ANY child. We had far better luck with a local dentist who was up for the challenge
•    Anonymous said... I found a dentist that specializes in special needs patients, and that was very helpful for my son. Hopefully you can find one in your area. good luck.
•    Anonymous said... I was terrified of the dentist when I was younger so was determined my son wouldn't be like me ( obviously didn't know until later he was an aspie ) I took him with me each time I went to the dentist from a baby and the dentist always looked at him at the same time so he doesn't have the fear. I do actually pay now though as he is no longer nhs but my son doesn't want another dentist xxx
•    Anonymous said... It will depend a lot on having a good dentist that will set him at ease. My daughter's dentist can do whatever he needs to do because he built up the trust with her first.
•    Anonymous said... My 6 year old son just had fillings done yesterday! I was really surprised how well he did!! He had the "conscious/twilight sedation" but he was pretty much awake the whole time. He drifted in & out, but did AWESOME!! See if you can find a dentist that does that type of sedation. Just be careful that he doesn't bite/chew on his lip when he is numb afterwards. My son has a very sore fat lip now.....but other than that he did great!! Best of luck!!
•    Anonymous said... My 6 yr old ASD son is so disturbed by having his face and mouth touched that every time we brush teeth it is a big struggle. He developed 3 cavities from it and when we tried to have his regular dentist feel them he had the biggest meltdown of his life. Eventually the dentist had to make a referral to the local children's hospital to have him put under, so that the cavities could be fixed. What an ordeal. Yet, he still fights me on brushing his teeth.
•    Anonymous said... My son does well with the laughing gas but we've found his issue is the noise of the tools. We also now let him listen to his MP3 or IPod while he's getting work done and life seems to be much easier.
•    Anonymous said... My son hates being touched by doctors and the dentist. Positive reinforcement, reassurance helps. My 9 year old goes to a pediatric dentist that is very good with him.
•    Anonymous said... When my Aspie son was 10 we finally got referred to the children's hospital dental clinic. We had a lot of major work done with the amazing skills of the staff there. My son found the "laughing gas" helped him relax. After many appointments the dentist kindly told my son that he now needed to learn to go back to a regular dentist, as many children were waiting to get into the children's hospital for dental work. We have been able to go to our family dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings for the last few years. It seems his positive experiences helped him change his outlook. Good luck finding the right dentist to help your son.

Post your comment below…

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content