Calum

 

CALUM

Calum is almost 9 years old.  He has autism and communicates mainly using Signalong.

CALUM AND THE HAIR CUT

Up until a few months ago, Calum had never had a proper haircut.  He was sensitive to the noise and feeling of combing and cutting and found it very difficult to sit still for any length of time.

Calums parents felt that Calum would feel most relaxed and secure at home, so we brought our own hairdresser, Jenny, to Calum’s house.  We decided to gradually let Calum get used to the noise and feeling of a haircut.  We also used sand timers and simple signs and instructions that we knew Calum understood to let him know how long we expected him to sit in the chair and when he could get up for breaks.  We also let him choose a video to watch whilst Jenny cut his hair.

We only asked him to sit for a minute or two at a time, so that Jenny could let him get used to her touching his hair and he just got a bit of a trim over the course of an hour and a half.  We took a photo of ‘Jenny Hairdresser’ (as Calum signs/calls her), so we could prepare him for her arrival the next time.

About 6 weeks later, Jenny came back and we used a similar approach but found that Calum was relaxed enough to sit for up to 5 minutes and let Jenny cut his hair.  By the third haircut (see photos below), he was happily sitting for 5-10 minutes before having a wee break, allowing Jenny to give him a suitably stylish cut in just over half an hour.

CALUM AT BEDTIME

At the age of eight, Calum would sleep for between three and six hours a night. And frequently, because getting him to sleep could be such an ordeal, he slept in his parents’ bed. Whilst Calum didn’t appear to need more than a couple of hours sleep a night, this was obviously very disruptive for the rest of the family.

We talked through the current bedtime situation with his mum and dad, which strategies they’d tried before, what helped, what didn’t, and came up with a plan. Firstly, we made sure that Calum was as calm and relaxed as possible before bedtime. We used the sand timers (that we’d introduced to help us with haircuts) to let Calum know that it would be bedtime soon. Once the timer finished, we got him ready for bed. It was important at this stage not to put any difficult demands on Calum (like encouraging him to brush his own teeth), so that the whole routine was positive and relaxed. Calum was then given another ten minutes (communicated again via a sand timer) where he could watch a video in bed before “lights out”. Once the timer finished, we said good night and switched off the light.

Calum got out of a bed once or twice, which we let him do, but if he came out of his bedroom we led him back into bed.  We did the same thing in the morning if Calum woke early and would also use a timer to let him know that he could get up in half an hour. Within a couple of days, Calum was happily following the routine without getting out of bed at all and began sleeping all the way through the night. And on the mornings he was still in his own bed when his mum got up, he got breakfast in bed.

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