Here’s some background information on my haircut history. You can read the complete work Crossing the Hurdles of Haircuts, which is available both as a free downloadable white paper, and as a printed, bound book.
I am a 43-year-old Aspie woman with lifelong, chronic sensory issues, whose mother gave up taking me to the other people to get my hair cut when I was pretty young — probably around age 4 or 5 — because I could not sit still for the hairdresser, and I would “run amok” after each dreaded session in the chair, acting out, shrieking, being hyper, and throwing temper tantrums. Even after my mother started cutting my hair at home, it continued to be a trying ordeal for everyone involved. I have very few good recollections of having my hair cut by my mother (or anyone else, for that matter) — not because they were bad people or were abusive to me, but because my sensitivities were so profound, so misunderstood, so undetected, and so unaddressed, that I could not physically, mentally, or emotionally tolerate having my hair cut without considerable distress.
My mother prevailed valiantly with grooming me herself, until my inability to sit still for her nearly resulted in disaster. On one fateful Saturday evening before Easter Sunday, I was particularly ill-behaved and antsy, and she ended up giving me crooked bangs that were beyond amateur repair. I squirmed so much when she was trying to cut my hair, that she couldn’t have cut straight, if she’d tried! Now to others, this mess would have been an aggravation or an inconvenience, but my dad was the pastor of the church we attended, and the preacher’s kid couldn’t show up at church looking like a bedraggled ragamuffin!
So, bright and early the next morning, I was marched off to the home of a hairdresser who went to our church. I remember being urged to sit still “just a little longer” about 20 times in the course of the process. And I remember making the hairdresser absolutely nuts with my restless, anxious fidgeting. But an hour before we were supposed to be in the front pew for the morning service, I had a stylish new shag haircut, and my mother was off the hook. Mission accomplished — my family’s honor was preserved! But not without great emotional upheaval and anxiety.
I actually started to refuse to get my hair cut when I was about 7, and I didn’t go back to the hairdresser till I was 13. I wore my hair in pigtails, which simplified everything, and I refused to change to any other hairstyle. I tried wearing my hair down, briefly, but for reasons I’ll describe later, I opted for pigtails.* All protests by neighbor women, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and female classmates that I would look better with another hairstyle fell on deaf ears. I didn’t care if I would look prettier with a different hairstyle. I wasn’t getting my hair cut!
Eventually, I did go back to the hairdresser when I decided needed to have a more “mature” hairstyle. Somehow, being 13 and having the same pigtails as when you were 7 doesn’t feel quite right. In fact, it was getting pretty embar-rassing. So I bit the bullet and went back to The Chair, but it was very difficult to do!
Over the years, I’ve had continued issues with getting my hair cut. I’ve tried salons, I’ve tried barbers, I’ve even tried letting my hair grow longer. But it’s never been easy, and the best I can hope for is to get in and out of The Chair as quickly — and with the least amount of damage — as possible. As in childhood, the very idea of devoting a lot of time to a hairstyle still puts my teeth on edge. And I know I’m not alone in this regard, in the AS world.