Oscar’s Haircut at Little Locks

I try and find the joy in the everyday, well, every day, because that’s what make up life; the little things. But if you follow me at all on social media you will know that this week we’ve had what might be a little thing to many, but to us is a massive cause for celebration.

Oscar’s autism hasn’t shown us too many sensory issues as yet, at least not those you may recognise as typically autistic. He’s OK with sound and pretty cool with new places and crowds. If anything he’s under (hypo) sensitive to things like pain and he looooves to run. But one thing he can’t stand is very typically autistic. He hates, and I mean hates, having his hair cut. We’ve found a way to get him to have his hair brushed (just and only on a good day) and his nails clipped, but despite trying any number of things we just couldn’t get him to have his hair cut.

Oscar hates having his hair cut

Oscar hates having his hair cut

Then at the end of last year a new salon opened in Haslemere. A specialist children hair salon, Little Locks was set up by Hannah Clements and her family. Hannah has many years experience in salon management and her niece, the lovely Georgia, is a fully qualified stylist, specialising in children’s hair. It seemed like a no brainer that the two should come together and open the kind of salon Haslemere was clearly lacking. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out Little Locks was opening just down the road from us. We’ve tried various salons over the years and, except his first two haircuts, they’ve all been pretty disastrous. We’ve tried having stylists come to the house, including friends he was familiar with, and even I had a go at loping bits off here and there but it made no difference. I got the feeling that if we could get him slowly used to the notion of a haircut, this might help. So when Little Locks opened I decided to discuss my idea with Hannah.

The Little Locks team couldn’t have been more understanding. Hannah’s son is also autistic, so she knew the angle I was coming from straight away. She told me one of the reasons they had decided to open a children’s salon was because as a family, they were acutely aware of the need for sensitivity around something as potentially anxiety inducing as a child’s hair cut. The salon on Weyhill is a large airy space, with a choice of cool chairs (Bat Car anyone?), TVs at every station, with a huge choice of DVDs to watch and a play area. But the thing that impressed me the first time I went in was how open and calm the environment was. One of my big dislikes about other childrens salons I’d been in was the amount of stuff everywhere. Hair products, toys and books to buy. Pester power purchases for some parents, but needless stimulation for my guy. I’ve also been put off other salons by how geared towards girls the decor has been. Little Locks has avoided this, with beautifully gender neutral decoration, and toys (to play with not buy) and cool touches designed to appeal to both male and female customers.

So at Hannah’s suggestion we started the process of familiarising Oscar with the salon back in January. Initially we just popped in to play. And he loved it. Then we made an appointment just for him to play with Georgia, all of which he happily did. He still wouldn’t even let her brush his hair though. This carried on regularly for eight weeks. We got to the point that he loved going in there. He would talk about the salon at home, he would even ask to go to ‘Haircut’, but every time we went in, he would refuse to have anyone touch his hair and just wanted to play. Usually with their train set!

Oscar loves the trains at Little Locks

Oscar loves the trains at Little Locks

Despite all the haircut episodes of cartoons we were watching (I particularly recomend Dora and Team UmiZoomi!) and the amount of children he’d seen having their hair done at Little Locks, I started to worry. Had I gone over board with the ‘letting him get used to it’ shtick? Would he ever understand that Little Locks was a place to actually have a haircut, and not just to play?

Things have slowly come to a head over the past few weeks. We are going to Devon for his birthday/Easter holiday this week and his hair was getting so long and so heavy over his eyes that he actually couldn’t see properly. I decided I was just going to have to take the horse by the reigns. Even if I was going to have to pin him down, he had to at least get his fringe cut. It was starting to be dangerous to leave it any longer. So I made him an appointment on Tuesday. Hannah and I found a time when the salon would be as quiet as possible and they booked an extra long time slot for him.

The morning of the appointment I drew him a very basic visual timetable, explaining he was going in the buggy, to Little Locks, that he would have his hair cut ?? and then he could play with their trains ? and go to Dylan’s for ice cream?. He was NOT happy with this plan, but we went over it several times and I calmly explained that while I knew he didn’t like it, that it was going to happen. When it came to leave we went through it again and he screwed up the timetable, but got into the buggy without a fuss. The fact that he did that, I hoped bode well for the rest of it.

We arrived at the salon without incident and he immediately tried to run to the toys. I gently explained that these would come after the hair cut and led him over to the chairs. It became quickly apparent that he wasn’t ready to sit in the car chair alone yet, so we headed to the other end of the salon to the more grown up chairs and he sat on my lap. Georgia set up Ben and Holly (Oscar’s choice) on the DVD and I held on tight as she started on the fringe.

Yes he shouted (a lot) to begin with, and squirmed but nothing like as much as he has done on previous attempts. Last year he struggled so hard I pulled all the muscles in my back trying to hold onto him. This was nothing like that. Yes he didn’t like it. And that’s ok. Once he realised that this really was happening he focused on watching Ben and Holly, laid his head on my chest and stopped wriggling. With just an occasional protestation to ensure we still understood he wasn’t enjoying the situation!

Georgia worked quickly and thoroughly giving him as neater a style as she could manage without needing to get too close to the ears or to use the clippers. One step at a time after all. She was even able to use the thinning scissors to take some of the weight out of his hair. As soon as she finished, he jumped down and I stripped his tshirt off to ensure we got rid of as much hair as possible (as I thought trying to get him wearing a gown was probably a step too far yet). And we were done.

He looked AH MAY ZING darling!

A super smart boy plays with the long awaited toys

A super smart boy plays with the long awaited toys

We ran and found the trains and the toys and he played happily. He even found a box of deelyboppers the salon use when they host one of their popcorn and pamper parties and put one on!!! This from the child who would refuse a hat in the depths of winter! He laughed, he showed us toys, he even asked to get in the Bat Car and had great fun ‘driving fast’.

DeeleyBopper time!

DeeleyBopper time!

"Drive fast mummy"

“Drive fast mummy”

Afterwards Georgia and I were both genuinely a bit emotional. All that planning and perseverance and patience and here he was like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I was full to the brim with pride and gratitude. Georgia told me that it’s times like this that make her job worth doing and that really touched me.

We let him play for a while and then I explained it was time to go and without question he got in the buggy and wolfed the lolly Geogia gave him. I left feeling so proud. I felt like everyone on the street must be able to know by looking at him what monumentous event had just happened in our lives.

So I want to say thank you. To all the team at Little Locks for baring with us all these months and never making us feel anything less than welcome. To Georgia and Hannah for being patient and caring and truly understanding what we needed from you.

And to Oscar. I know you didn’t enjoy it my darling. I hope playing with the trains, and the magazine, the Rocky Dog, the ice cream and the Rocket Ship I got you on the way home helped make up for that. But thank you for trusting me. And making me feel like what I do for you, everything I do for you, is worth it.

My beautiful blue eyed boy

My beautiful blue eyed boy, with his smart new hair.

 

 

 

Thank you so much to Hannah and the team at Little Locks Haslemere. I know your business will go from strength to strength. I was not paid to write this review and I paid for Oscar’s haircut with my own money.

You can book an appointment with any of Little Locks stylists on their website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram

 

 

A Cornish Mum

 

 

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 4

That’s right! Week 4 already. I can’t believe I’ve been back at Slimming World for a proper month already. It’s gone so quickly and yet it feels like no time at all. I thought today, I’d look at the differences I’m seeing in a month of optimised eating, because as I’ve said before, it’s not all about the number on the scales.

1) I feel less ill.

I spent the last few months of 2015 in constant pain. I believe that was in part down to the huge amounts of stress I was accepting into my life (anxiety anyone?) but I know it was also probably down to the large amounts of fat in my diet. I was diagnosed with multiple gallstones about 18 months ago and there is nothing that will inflame them more than constantly eating high fat foods. I knew that then, I just didn’t care enough to stop it. But now I have, I can really feel the difference. The pains in my ribs have all but gone. And you don’t realise how much something was bothering you until it’s gone.

2) As alluded to above I am less stressed.

I made the decision to stop letting my anxiety about Oscar ‘s Autism and how this will affect our lives rule my days and started eating better. But the two really go hand in hand. The better I eat, the better I’m able to cope. The better I cope, the more I can focus on looking after myself and eating better. The ‘vicious circle’ works both ways! Who knew?

3) I’m trying new things.

Not just new foods, but new things for me, things I’ve wanted to do for ages. Next Tuesday I’m starting my first ever Yoga course. I’m super excited and can’t wait to get stretching and breathing. My hope is it will help my fitness, but also support my attempts to keep my stress levels down!

4) Clothes are starting to fit better.

Things aren’t mega tight like they were a month ago, which makes me more comfortable; both physically and emotionally. And this week I tried on my beloved biker jacket that I haven’t been able to wear for months. Four weeks ago I could barely get it on, let alone done up. Now look!

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5) I’m feeling proud of myself.

Because I know I’ve worked for this. And also not for looking back and comparing and whinging, but cracking on. This is a new journey and it’s led me here (so far)

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Yes, last night I lost another 2lb, which takes my total in four weeks to 8.5lb lost.

So there you go. Four small weigh ins and what a change. I’m slightly blown away by that actually. But I’m loving everything Slimming World is giving me right now. And I can’t wait to see what the next month brings.

Love

Lisa

Xxx

Ps As you can see I haven’t included any food or recipes here. I have some to share, but I’m not sure if people are enjoying them or not. I’m you’d like me to keep talking about the food, let me know in the comments! Thanks ?

Our first school trip

Oscar’s preschool often take their children out. To the local woods, to buildings of interest, to churches etc. So far Oscar has not joined his friends on any of these trips and I’ve been fine with that. His understanding of change in routine and his perception of danger mean it just hasn’t been worth it for him. However recently he’s seemed more able to cope, more able to hold my hand when asked. I mentioned to his TA that the next time they go to the woods, I would like Oscar to join in and I would happily come with him. I felt it was time to try.

As it happened their next scheduled trip was to the local Cupcake shop, to support this term’s theme ‘The Jobs People Do’. The nursery suggested Oscar and I come too and I agreed. For all sorts of logistical reasons I suggested we meet them at Mirrabelles, which we did bang on 10am. We were the only ones there for 15 minutes. In some respects that was great. Oscar went straight in, sat down, did some colouring, had a little look round, all while holding my hand. He did bloody brilliantly.

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On the other hand it was a pain in the proverbial, because by the time they eventually turned up, he’d used up a large proportion of his ‘sitting still and being quiet’ quota. This annoyed me, but what can you do? Any who, the thing that made me beam from ear to ear was how happy the other children were to see him, with several of them shouting ‘OSCAR!!’ with such joy when they saw him. It broke my heart with cute!

Needless to say he struggled to sit and watch the cake making demonstration. He attended here and there, but really it wasn’t exciting enough to hold him from a distance. He’s used to getting up close and personal when we bake, so I can see why he struggled. It didn’t help that the shop had placed bowls of maltesers, chocolate buttons and sprinkles on the tables (for the children to decorate the cakes with) and told them not to touch. I know the children have to learn self discipline, but this just felt mean to me! Of course Oscar looked like the only one making a big deal about it because he’s loud, but his Key Worker told me later other children had also snuck a choccie here and there, but because they did it quietly no one noticed!

Mixing it up!

Mixing it up!

So yeah he walked/ran about a bit, he played with our friend who also happened to be there and he was sad he couldn’t eat the chocolate on the tables. But do you know, he didn’t have a single melt down. In fact he was mostly happy the whole time we were there, even if he wasn’t doing exactly what was expected of him. Eventually his TA convinced him to sit back down and they were given iced cakes to decorate. And rather than choff the sweets he now had his hands on he decorated his cake, just like every one else. They were then told not to eat the cakes and to put them in a box. So he had a cheeky nibble and did just that, with barely a fuss. I was gob smacked!

Sitting and decorating

Sitting and decorating

Nibble nibble

Nibble nibble

I had no idea how this trip would go. We went in with a positive attitude and an acceptance that we might need to pack up and leave if it didn’t work. But it did work. He was included. And while it was tiring, it was totally worth it. And not just because he insisted we share his cake when we got home!

What a guy!

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Mummy and Monkeys

Proud

We recently realised we don’t really take Oscar to many places. It’s not that we consciously avoid taking him out, but I think him being at preschool most of the week and me not driving has meant we’ve fallen into a bit of a rut of keeping everything to what we know. Park, town, shops, farmers market, Cecily’s house. It’s not a vast list is it? Maybe we have been avoiding taking him out. And that’s not fair. Because actually I think we’re more frightened of what might happen than anything that actually has happened. And what’s the point in being afeared of the thought of something?

Anyway last week Ben had the week off work. It was during term time, so Oscar was still going to preschool in the mornings, but buoyed by the support of another adult and access to a car gave me the courage to suggest we try some new stuff. And I’m so, so glad I did.

Last Tuesday saw us meet with the Educational Psychologist who is going to be assessing what kind of support Oscar will need when going to big school next year. We haven’t had the report yet, but as much in our lives, I was more worried about what the meeting would be than what it actually was. To celebrate the fact that it was done and that particular ball was rolling, we decided to try taking Oscar out for lunch straight from nursery. This was a pretty big deal. We used to eat out quite a bit but haven’t since he became too big for being strapped into the highchair. We went to ASK in Haslemere, a restaurant he always loved in the past. Much as with everything at the moment, we went expecting the best, but totally prepared for the worst.

And he surprised us all.

This. Exactly this.

This. Exactly this.

 

Sitting. And eating.

Sitting. And eating!

 

Lying down is the way ahead

Lying down is the way ahead. As is holding hands with daddy.

Don’t get me wrong, we were on the edge of our seats the whole time we were there, but boy oh boy did he do bloody brilliantly.

So following this success, we decided to do something we’ve fancied for ages. On Wednesday afternoon we went to Winchester Science Centre (previously INTEC). Its a 45 minute drive from our house and of course he fell asleep in the car. Balls I thought, well this isn’t going to work now is it? Turns out I should shut up and stop making assumptions. We woke him up and carried him in, a little bit dopey but not once did he get upset. And when he saw just how much stuff there was to touch. Well, that was it, he was off. He went from one thing to the next to the next, pulling levers and pushing buttons. It didn’t matter to him that he hadn’t a clue what any of it was about. He could play with it and that was enough. And we just tried to keep up.

Oscar at the controls!

Oscar at the controls! Gawd save us 😉 !

We were there for an hour and a half. And he didn’t stop. But when it came to leave, we told him what was going on and he came with us. No arguments, no melt downs. And he walked, holding my hand, all the way to the car and climbed in. It. Was. AWESOME!

My champ!

My champ!

But the best part of the day for me was that he came running up to us three times in that hour and half and said to us “happy”. Oscar’s language gets better and better as the weeks and months go by and he can tell us when he’s “sad”, but rarely does he verbally express joy. It was worth going just for that.

I know I need to be braver. My instinct is still to avoid busy times (such as the holidays), but I need to face up to the fact that sometimes it’s going to work and sometimes it won’t and be comfortable with that. I’m doing him a disservice by keeping him from trying things just because I assume he won’t enjoy it. So this week (and while I’ve had the back up of a visiting friends), we’ve been doing just that. Being brave. And he’s getting better and better at waiting, holding hands, sitting and eating.

Of course I say ‘better’. Maybe he’s been able to do it for ages? And that makes me feel a little bit bad. But really that’s outweighed by how awesome I feel looking at these pictures. You might get excited by trying new and exciting days out and activities. For me, my heart leaps when he can sit. Autism will do that to you.

Sitting in Dylans, eating an enire ice cream and COLOURING! His artwork is now hanging up with the other childrens :)

Sitting in Dylan’s, eating an entire ice cream and COLOURING! His artwork is now hanging up with the other childrens 🙂

 

A trip to Sainsburys. BLew. My. Mind. Waiting, holding hands, eating cool calm and collected. Phew!

A trip to Sainsbury’s. Blew. My. Mind. Waiting, holding hands, eating. Cool, calm and collected. What a guy!

I know not every outing will end so successfully. I’m not niave. But these did. And I want to shout it from the rooftops.

I’m so, so proud.

 

Diary of an imperfect mum

Toot toot!

Just a quick little blow of my own trumpet here. Today has been an exceptionally proud blogging day for me and I wanted to tell you all about it.

 

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Firstly, my post about Oscar’s ASD diagnosis has been featured on the front page of the Good Mother Project, a collaborative storytelling site, all about focusing on the positive in motherhood. As they say

“We are all in this motherhood thing together, Motherhood is hard. It’s messy. It’s exhausting. It’s lonely. It’s overwhelming. But it’s beautiful, too.”

How gorgeous is that?

Anyway, they chose my story about our own special journey and it went live today. Right up there on the front page. Tiny squeee from me!

 

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And then if that wasn’t enough excitement, my first post as a Regular Blogger for the online magazine Mummy Pages also went live today!

Mummy Pages approached me about becoming a regular blogger for them after I featured as their Mummy Blogger of the Week a while back. Apparently they really liked my style. How lovely is that? Anyway, I’ll be writing two original posts for them a month, so I’ll be sure to give you the heads up when a new one is live.

The first one is dedicated to Ben’s mum and is called When the mother-in-law came to visit (their title I might add – maybe I’ll work on that for next time!)

I also published this post about what blogging means to me. Funnily enough I wrote most of it yesterday before I knew about all the excitement of today. But everything I say in it is true. This really is just the beginning 😉

Thank you for reading and supporting me. Trumpeting over.

xx