Haircuts & Autism

by Christian Berman

I’m going through this right now, so it’s painfully fresh in my head. I happen to be out of the house early 3 weeks ago, which is rare for me. It was because I had an early doctors appointment. One I was procrastinating on because of the elevator. I had to go on to get there, but it’s seemingly the only way up & the elevator is really old. Its from the 1980’s, so it shakes and rumbles. I dread the 40 second ride up there for weeks before, but I made it through that. We call the hair salon & speak to the hairstylist from my appointment at the doctors office while I’m waiting. She say’s to come when I’m finished since she was squeezing me in. She likes me a lot, so I take advantage of this opportunity. I finish up fast & we survive the evaluator ride down alive & in one piece. We get right on the road to my next appointment & I’m not even scared. I’m more excited & raring to go, can’t wait to get there. We were only there once before because this other hair salon really messed up my hair by cutting it uneven. The hairstylist denied it. It was pouring rain and we went to another salon before, but she was busy with another customer & wouldn’t see us without an appointment. So we desperately drove in the pouring rain & found this salon. I was ready to go to Supercuts as a last resort, like no one can cut hair even today.

So this salon took me, fixed the uneven hair better than before, & charged me only $15 because it was an emergency. That’s all my brother had left on him since the other place changed $25. So, we go back there 3 weeks ago and my brother Larry was having trouble finding the place. I loved my beautiful long hair so much. I missed the feeling of my soft, long hair around my shoulders. The last time that the hairstylist cut it, it was slightly longer in the front & one side slightly longer in the back. I’m not sure if this comes with Autism or not, but I notice every little single detail. I have O.C.D. & I’m the ultimate perfectionist about everything, especially my hair & bangs. I only wanted a slight trim to cut off the unevenness, about an inch around. Just to even it out & have it slightly shorter in the front, nothing special. I thought it would look better and that I would feel better.

Hair is always a big deal. I don’t think it matters if you have Autism or not, but hair is a major big deal to everyone kids & adults. It represents who you are. Change is especially traumatic for those of us who have Autism. Change in anything, including routines, hair, clothing, and even new shoes. It’s hard to have to get used to something new, but hair is the hardest by far. It’s part of you & your identity. I think it’s hardest for girls & women, because most men, but have short hair, & even a bad haircut isn’t so bad, because in a month or 2 it will grow back anyway & you get a new trim. Women have long hair, sometimes it can take a few years to grow back long, that’s like forever.

So, on the way to find the hair salon, my brother gets lost & gets 2 phone calls while being lost: one from my parents friend wanting help with something and another from his much older friend complaining about his morning. All this happened while we are trying to find the hair salon. I am happy to be out. I look good too with nice, long, beautiful hair. It felt good to concur my elevator fear, but I’m like, “I’m not going back there, we need to find another doctor.” This doctor & nurse is nice though, I got a whole bunch of Paw Patrol stickers, Disney stickers, Troll Stickers, plus a few Dum Dum Lolli pops. He’s an ENT for kids & adults. Larry finds the strip mall & parks. Happily I run ahead & look for it, I’m looking in all the stores on the strip, but I can’t find it. I am excited, but starting to get nervous. Then I’m looking for my brother and I can’t find him. I’m confused & worried, so I run back to the car. He’s not there, but there is construction men walking. They look a bit scary, but then I find an older lady in her 50’s & tell her I’m lost. I said I was supposed to meet my brother at the hair salon & I can’t find him. I ask her if she could please call him, but she walks me to the hair salon and my brother is in there happily on the phone talking to my parent’s friend and sitting down, having no idea I was missing. The lady left, but I never got a chance to thank her. Larry thought I was in the bathroom. I’m now unnerved. The lady seemed nice & I did go to the bathroom after.

I asked Larry to take a photo of my before hair, but he didn’t want to and the hairstylist soon took me back. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait long. I wanted to get this over with & I didn’t even eat breakfast yet, so I was worried about hypoglycemia. I sometimes get low blood sugar when I haven’t eaten & I’m nervous & overwhelmed. I didn’t want to have a near fainting spell. It happens sometimes, but luckily not too often. She puts a cloth around me and then I’m nervous about if it been washed. I don’t say anything though. She’s brushing out my hair, I tell her, just an inch off around & slightly shorter in the front. My hair is slightly knotty, so I tell her to spray on lots of water. My hair is wavy, curly & I want it straight so it is even. She say’s she’s going on vacation next week, has a lot of clients today, & she was just squeezing me in. I want to stop and leave, but no. I have high hopes that she will do amazing job. I also don’t look good without bangs, so I wanted her to cut those too. They were now down to my nose since it was cut 10 months ago, but I cut it way too short & messed it up, so no one could fix them until they grew back. I look a good 10 years older without bangs. With bangs I could easily pass for my early 20’s. I look young for my age anyway.

She cuts my hair, but one side is longer. I tell her and she cuts more, but it’s getting too short and I want it even. This is my hair. I love & it took a year to grow back. She has no patience & wants to see how fast she can finish. I find this terribly upsetting. I would cut it slowly & gently. I tell her about my bangs. The part she makes is uneven so I tell her. She cuts them and then tells me to brush it out & look for any uneven hairs while she works on another older lady. I’m the youngest in the shop besides her 20 something year old daughter. She’s nice, but super busy. I do find more uneven hairs, she tries her best to fix them, but my hair is getting shorter & still not too even. I’m not happy & sorry I went to get my hair cut. She tries to fix my bangs better at my request, but I try not to let on I’m not happy. Maybe she can tell. She finally finishes and I’m happy I didn’t faint. I bet I would have if she washed my hair since that makes me nervous. I look at the floor and it looks like she took over 2 inches off, but I said only one inch. She asked me what I can pay, I said $20 and she gladly accepted. She said I’ll see you next year and Larry & I left.

Once at home, I rinsed out the hairspray. I have many sensory issues too. I looked for uneven hairs as I rinsed my hair with tap water & brushed it out, I found a few & pulled off the ends. Then one side in the front was uneven and I used a nail clipper to make it the same as the other side. That night, Larry got me a nice dinner of angel hair pasta in a lemon piccata sauce with a side of meatballs & tomato sauce. My brother tries his best & is good to me. My uneven bang part & bangs make me unhappy. Now I have to try my best to make the part perfectly even and making every hair perfectly aligned. I had this problem about perfectly even hair ever since I was 10 years old. My grandma was too old to keep cutting my hair, so I started cutting my own hair since my family was kinda poor & we couldn’t afford a hair salon back then.

I was up all night fixing my bangs part. I worked on it 6 hours, but that’s pretty normal for me, maybe more than usual. I had begged Larry for the good scissors & he gave them to me. I still was unhappy with the job I did on my bangs. I also thought my haircut was uneven. I kept thinking that I wish I never got it cut. So when I woke up the next afternoon sad & upset when Larry called around looking for another hair salon to fix it. One didn’t answer, but another one did. I kept saying no though because they charged $98 and we really can’t afford so much, but he wanted to make me feel better. So I quickly got ready & we left early. I’m usually late for everything, but this was important. It was a long 20 minute drive, but it was 4.8 stars so definitely with the trip. I’m stressed & nervous in the car to go through all this again, the cutting and the checking. I’m very particular. What if they mess it up more & it’s no good?

We finally get there, but we did get lost once & ended up in a firehouse station. That’s par for the course. We finally get to the right place & I run in. This place is rich & looks really high end, how nice. I use the bathroom while we wait, they said the owner wanted to talk to me. I’m excited and I do look like the youngest there. Everyone kind of looked & smiled at me. The pretty owner asked to talk to me, I told her what happened & she could tell I was upset & emotional. She thought my bangs were too short, severe, & there was nothing she could do. She told me to come back in a few weeks when they grow out more & there is more to work with. I did do a good job on them they thought, but too short. I was kind of relived they weren’t going to traumatize me anymore, but we went there for nothing & I did want everything evened out. I was happy to leave though. I did save some money for a new doll, my interest. Larry got me Poppies for dinner & we went home, all in all a good day.

Now here I am, a new weeks later writing this and I still feel the uneven part was pulling & pinching, even though it looked relatively good. I had been working on the bangs part recently & felt I finally got the part even so it didn’t tug and pinch. Larry decided to give me the scissors to make me happy. I thought I could get the part & bangs perfectly even so I would feel happy. I would shine & have would have more self confidence. I was wrong as my head hung low and failed. Not only did I have to use too much long hair to make the new bang part even, but now my long hair is thinner, the part still isn’t perfectly even, it’s worse & even pinches & itches more, maybe from puling at it all night, I dono, I have so many sensory issues, no one else would notice. I’m so unhappy to have so many bangs & it was better before, but now it will take a year to grow back & I’m debating if I should go back to the hair salon to have it fixed or see what they can do. I’m not happy & woke up wishing Larry didn’t give me the scissors. I feel depressed, terrible, & he only wanted to make me feel happier. I have been brushing & wetting my bangs, praying they grow back now. This month has seemed so long, just waiting for my hair & bangs to grow back. I just hope my bangs grow back super fast. I guess I need to become fixated & obsessed with something else or I won’t have much hair left. I’m lucky my hair tends to grow fast, but right now it’s not growing at all. Can anyone relate to my hair struggles?

Christian Berman is an Autistic artist. He has a YouTube Channel called “The Adventures of the Little Harmonic”.

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