30 Days with Autism, Day 5


April 5th: Autism has taught me that hair brushing should be an Olympic event.

Anyone who has ever witnessed the act of brushing the hair of a small child knows it can be fraught with challenges. Being sure not to pull to hard, while being able to get the tangles out, is a fine balancing act to attempt. Now imagine that your child has an extreme aversion to things being on or near her head. Imagine the slightest pull feeling the same as if you had grabbed a large tuft of hair and jerked. This is what it’s like at our house every day, sometimes more than once a day. There are times when holding her down and forcing the brush through her hair is literally the only way to get the job done. I have tried many things to make it easier for her. Sometimes she’s willing to try and other times she’s not. I’ve had to sit on the couch with one leg crossed over the opposite knee with her standing in the middle of the triangle they form just to keep her from running away from me the second I pick up the brush. It’s exhausting! She squirms and wiggles, she cries and fights, she runs off and screams. She does not like to have her hair brushed. She has also had an exceptionally sensitive head when it comes to pain. She can hit her arm on a bed, leaving a huge, raised welt and not make a peep, but brush her hair and you’d think we were scalping her. The fear and the panic in her eyes are very real. It’s the same fear and panic I see when we wash her hair in the shower, or try to dry her hair after a bath. It has gotten somewhat easier over the years to do this, but it’s still a minor miracle if she lets me brush her hair without a major fuss. We sometimes have screaming and fussing, we always have tears. The slightest pull is excruciating, and she lets us know it. The light at the end of this part of the autism tunnel is the smile on her face, the pure joy and bliss when she sees herself, hair combed to perfection and delicately adorned with a butterfly or flowered hair clip. She’s beautiful. She’s always beautiful, but seeing the look on her face tells me she knows it. She feels it, and that’s what’s important. I may be tired and a bit frustrated. I may have to expend much more energy than I’d like for something so simple, but she feels good about herself afterwards. That’s what it’s about.


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