What does ‘reward’ mean to you?
In the autism world, there are many challenges that are faced every single day. Yet some of those challenges can be very rewarding, for both child and parent. I can think of many challenges we’ve both faced, that in the end, we were equally rewarded – her reward was achieving something out of the ordinary, achieving a goal, breaking out of a habit. For me it was seeing her do something and knowing that she knew she did it without having a complete meltdown, or after the meltdown was over, she saw that what she did, was actually okay.
The first rewarding moment that I can remember, was the first time she sat in a barber chair without assistance or without me holding her down while she got her hair cut. Yes, you read that right. For most children with autism, getting a haircut is a HUGE challenge. I had to sit in the chair with her in my lap, hold her legs and arms as still as possible, all the while listening to her scream and cry as the stylist cut her hair. It’s just a part of that sensory/autism area…someone different combing my hair, that isn’t my hairbrush, etc. The stylist having to spray their hair with water isn’t a big hit either. Plus, the scissors aren’t a favorite thing – something sharp and pointed, coming towards me…
I take her to a place where the hair stylist is familiar with children with special needs; she has a special needs child of her own. Not only that, but the place is very welcoming to all children, especially those with special needs. They can play with all kinds of neat and cool toys. Plus, the stylist doesn’t even have to cut their hair while they’re sitting in a chair. I walked in one day and saw her sweeping up hair from around the train table – the child was preoccupied with the train set, that that was all they were going to do. My daughter was the same way, I couldn’t get her away from the train set, or coax her to sit in the chair to get her hair cut, so the stylist proceeded to cut her hair from where my daughter played. No problems, whatsoever!
Maybe there’s a fear of sitting in a barber chair, who knows!
The last time I took my daughter to get her hair cut, she sat in the chair without a fuss. Cartoons was playing on the TV The stylist was able to find a cartoon my daughter liked on the TV, which kept her preoccupied long enough for the stylist to go to work. It was only when the cartoon ended did she realize what was going on and started to squirm, though the stylist quickly finished, yet did an amazing job. The stylist then rewarded my daughter with a toy of her choosing, for her being so brave and not making a fuss.
This little barber shop also has an awesome store where I can buy sensory toys for my daughter. I even purchased a few puzzles and a few dry erase alphabet mats for my daughter to learn tracing her ABC’s on.
My daughter now calls the barber shop, the train place, because of the train set kids can play with while waiting to get their hair cut. There’s also a dollhouse and a few sensory toys around the store where kids can freely play.