A few years ago I threw in the towel and stopped taking C to get haircuts. I was tired of all the stress and disastrous results. Looking back I can recognize now that the experience put C into sensory overload and it was doomed before it began. A few months ago C started to express interest in having a hairstyle other than what his Dad could do (which was basically a buzz cut). So we agreed to try going back to the place our family frequents. Before we went I decided that it would be best to explain (briefly) to the stylist about C’s Tourette’s and to make it clear that while he would do his best, it is not his fault should he need to move. C was fine with this plan. The experience was amazing, the stylist was very patient and C stayed fairly still (well, for HIM it was still – compared to other kids he was probably moving like a live wire).
Fast forward to last week, when C needed another hair cut. We waited for a “good day”, meaning very few motor tics and no excess anxiety or worries. Unfortunately, the two stylists that were there last time were off and C did not want to come back another day. The stylist that took our name has cut my hair before (and seems sweet) and the place was empty so I figured all should still work out. C’s name was called and he headed for the chair when, BOOM, a different stylist pops out of the back room. I take one look at her and the frown on her face as C goofed around getting into the chair and I wanted to bolt.
Instead, I took a deep breath and say “I just want you to know before you start . . .” as she pauses, water bottle held in mid air ” that he has Tourette’s which is . . .” and before I can finish she gets this horrified look on her face and she BACKS AWAY from C. Luckily he was still playing his Nintendo DS so didn’t notice. I had a split second to decide, be all upset and offended or push through and hope that I could enlighten this woman. So I started again, as though she hadn’t done what she did ” . . . it’s a MOVEMENT disorder”. She moved back but still looked bewildered. I took another deep breath and tried to act all nonchalant. “Basically it means that his body moves in ways he cannot control, so while today is a good day he might sometimes move unexpectedly – you need to know this and you need to know that it is not his fault.”
Finally the haircut was underway, C did a good job, with a little bit of lecturing to the stylist about not being so rough (it was then that I remembered she had done my hair once and WAS rough about it – ooops). He did a nice job advocating for himself, even I hadn’t said anything when she was rough doing my hair. I bit my tongue cause there is still that old fashioned mom in me that wants to chastise my kids if they say anything to anyone that might even be remotely seen as rude. He wasn’t being rude, he was being factual. I then focused on being thankful that he hadn’t swore at her when he said it (we are battling that issue at home a lot right now).
After the cut the stylist confided in me that she thought when I told her Tourette’s that it was some sort of communicable disease like scabies or lice. What she didn’t do was apologize, but, whatever. I told her that the horror on her face told me exactly what she was thinking but that I was glad she now understood. Her face went red at that time so I knew it was all sinking in. When it came time to pay I still tipped her extremely well. She had done a nice job on C’s hair and I didn’t want to act petty and not do what I always do. She was very shocked by the tip and thanked me profusely. I’ll admit, I do hope that helped to solidify this new information that she has about TS, and maybe, just maybe the next time she’s in a similar situation she won’t back away.