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Going to the hairdresser as an autistic person

Updated: Jan 10

Yesterday I went to the hairdresser, something which was difficult for me a few years ago!


Hairdressing salons can be a sensory nightmare for many autistic people, from the smell of the products, the new environment, the noise levels and of course, lots of small talk. This can leave a lot of autistic people avoiding the hairdresser altogether. This isn't a problem, of course; hair cuts aren't vital. However, they can make us feel better about ourselves, help us express ourselves, and make our hair more manageable.


Here are some of my tips to make your next trip to the hairdresser a little easier:


1. Consider your options

Research different salons in your area and take a look at the reviews to see how large the salon is, the larger it is, the more likely it is to be noisy. Consider hairdressers who offer a mobile service to see you in your home. You might also consider private hairdressers who see you in a private space without any other customers.


Personally, my preference is a private hairdresser as I get some enjoyment from stepping into the salon environment and not having to worry about the state of my home like I would a mobile hairdresser. It also means I get the room tailored to my needs as there are no other clients present. This is one of the things that has made the biggest difference for me! Before finding my current hairdresser, I looked online for a few months, searching for a salon and hairdresser I felt could suit me. I liked the idea of a private salon, and my hairdresser looked approachable and kind and got really good reviews, so I was sold!


2.Plan plan plan

Before going to the hairdresser, plan out the appointment details as much as possible. Consider the time of day, how you will get there, how long the appointment will be, what services you will receive, and who will cut your hair. Knowing what to expect can help reduce anxiety and sensory overload. You might like to ask the hairdresser to explain the process of the service you will be receiving beforehand.


For me, this is a big one. I love structure and routine! I prefer morning appointments because then I'm not worrying about it all day. It also means I'm not 'stuck' waiting around for the appointment, unable to do any other tasks, something that happens often for a lot of neurodivergent people!


3.Get comfy

Bring a comfort item: If you have a comfort item, such as a fidget toy or essential oil you find calming, consider bringing it to the appointment. Also, consider what you wear to the appointment, and ensure it is something comfy and a non-irritating material. This can help you stay calm and reduce sensory input during the haircut. You may also wish to bring a loved one to the appointment.


I enjoy going in leggings and an oversized jumper. This helps me to feel comfy and cosy. I would also suggest lots of layers so you can remove or add them depending on the temperature, as temperature regulation is important. If you're not into fidget toys, just spinning a ring or playing with a hair elastic can do a similar job.


4. Accommodating yourself

Feel free to communicate your needs to the hairdresser if you feel comfortable doing so. Let them know if you have any sensory needs, if you need breaks during the appointment, or if you need the haircut to be done in a certain way. Consider wearing noise-reducing earplugs like loops if you dislike hairdryer noise; you may also wish to ask your hairdresser to turn off any music or that you would prefer a silent appointment without small talk. You could even wear sunglasses or tinted glasses if the lights cant be adjusted.


At my salon, the music isn't too loud so this isn't an issue for me. I do, however, like my loop earplugs which I use for very noisy environments like loud restaurants, so they might be worth trying if you go to a busy hair salon.



5. Communication

Booking online can reduce the need to interact. If you have trouble communicating your needs verbally, show the hairdresser a picture of the haircut you want or provide written instructions on how you want your hair to be cut. Alternatively, you might like to try text-to-speech software or even just google translate to read out your words.


I love online booking or booking via email, text or message. I don't enjoy phone calls so my hairdresser is more than happy for me to book by messaging her.


6. Recovery

When planning for your appointment, schedule in time to recover afterwards. You may wish to decompress, relax and have some alone time to recover from the sensory input and socialising.


After a haircut, I like to take an hour to de-stress, either by having a nap, watching a calm YouTube video or having a snack and spending time alone in the quiet. This gives me an energy boost to carry on with the rest of my day after.



Remember, it's important to prioritise your needs and make sure you feel comfortable during the haircut. Communicating your needs and using these strategies can make the experience more manageable and less stressful. Never feel like accommodating yourself is asking for 'too much'; you are important and valid, and most hairdressers will be more than happy to help you have a good experience!

Are you or a loved one neurodivergent and struggling with everyday tasks and activities? Navigate Neurodiversity Occupational Therapy service works with neurodivergent adults and teenagers (16+) by providing the support and tools to improve their confidence and happiness. Alex the occupational therapist, works one-on-one with each client to develop personalised therapy plans that focus on areas such as sensory accommodations, mental health, self-care, and workplace/university adjustments. With a holistic approach, I help individuals build the confidence and validation they need to thrive. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation and start your journey to a better tomorrow!


If you’re interested in finding out more about how I could support you or your teenager (16+) visit www.NavigateNeurodiversityot.com

or email navigateneurodiversityot@gmail.com



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