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

 

 

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

Slimming World Update – Week 52 – One Year Special

Hi there

I’ll start by telling you that at last night’s weigh in I lost 2.5lb which, despite not being all the weight I gained over the last two weeks, is a good enough start for me. It takes me back to 5 Stone 12.5lb.

But actually what I want to talk about today is not last night’s group, or even this weeks result.

You see this is a pretty special post for me, because last night’s weigh in marked the 1 year anniversary of my joining Slimming World and starting on this incredible journey I never believed I could make.

A year ago I was in a very different ‘place’. I weighed 6 stone more than I do now, had a very different relationship with food in general and my outlook on life was tired, sad and often on the negative side. I was so consumed with being a new mother and the associated challenges that come with that, that I’d almost ceased to exist as a person in my own right. I don’t think that’s wholly unusual in new mothers, but I was compensating for this lack of self worth by giving myself the one thing that I really didn’t need. High sugar, high fat food and lots of it. It’s sad to think I gained 2 stone after I had my son (and not, as someone assumed the other day, while I was pregnant), but I think I need to make it clear that I can’t blame my starting weight solely on motherhood. I have been obese my whole adult life. My weight’s fluctuated a bit, but except for a year or so I’ve been a size 22/24 all my adult life. The last time I wore the size 16’s I’m wearing now was in my late teens.

A couple of things happened to motivate me to change things in 2013. Firstly my son turned 1 in the April (I wore a size 24 dress to his party. It was pretty tight) and I realised I wouldn’t be able to the use the ‘new baby’ excuse for much longer. He wasn’t new any more!

Around the same time I also started keeping a gratitude journal via the Happier.com app, recording three happy moments a day. I did it daily and realised within a few months that all my happy moments were about Oscar and never about me. This got me thinking. So I started my blog to give me something of an outlet, with no intention of sharing it 😉 !

Then over the next few months I happened to see a couple of photos that shocked me rigid.

First there was this one.

May 2013 (c) Louise Phillips

May 2013 (c) Louise Phillips

At the time I told myself it was just an awful photo – that the boy was extremely wriggly and I was caught in an unflattering position, trying to keep hold of him. Now, I think it looks like I’m trying to hide behind by one year old son.

Then a couple of months later this was taken at Oscar’s toddler group summer picnic.

July 2013

July 2013

I was convinced this was going to be a great picture of the two of us and when I saw it I was heart broken. That dress is a size 26.

I knew something had to change, but funnily enough joining Slimming World wasn’t so much about losing weight at first. It was more about getting some space for me. So OK, so my reason for joining might sound odd to you, but it was hugely motivating at the time. I’m not sure if I had joined with the sole intention of losing lots of weight I would have succeeded in quite the same way. I went with no real expectation, putting no pressure on myself to ‘do well’.

But to my surprise, after a couple of weeks I did start to ‘do well’ and the boost it gave me was immeasurable. The ‘plan’ (I never call it the ‘plan’ – it makes it sound a bit cult like!) made me question how I thought about food. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what foods were nutritionally better for me than others, but this actually made me stop and think about the food I was eating, rather than blindly eating whatever I fancied. The group sessions, or Image Therapy as Slimming World rather grandly call them 😉 were also a revelation. I found, and still do find, talking about any issues I’ve had that week incredibly useful, but not only that it also gave me the space to be proud of my achievements, something I’d never done before. Accepting compliments is incredibly liberating. If you’ve not done it before, I highly recommend it.

The rest of the year you probably already know. It’s passed anyone’s expectations, probably because no one actually had any 🙂 . My SW achievements include:

  • Winning Slimmer of the Week 12 times
  • Winning Slimmer of the Month 3 times
  • Losing 10% of my body weight
  • Winning ‘Greatest Loser of the Year’ for Liphook 7.30 group
  • Losing 6 stone in just under one year

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But the achievements I’ve seen every day have been just as incredible

  • Going from a size 26 to a 16 Dress (with a stop off in my gorgeous size 22 Monsoon dress)
  • Getting back into my pre-pregnancy size 22 jeans and quickly slimming out of them again
  • Walking everywhere. I’ve halved the time it takes me to get anywhere, meaning I keep arriving early to everything!
  • Buying my first ever pair of skinny jeans – and living in them!
  • Finally fitting into Fat Face and Joules and other brands that don’t even carry plus sizes.

photo 4 - Copy

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But I guess my greatest achievement so far has been just to keep going. To finally understand that no one else is responsible for this journey. Only me.

It’s not always easy. I have hard times, same as everyone. I have set backs and disappointments. I have days where I just don’t want to care any more. Days when I’m sick and tired of thinking about food and whether the choices I’m making are the best ones. Weeks when I look at the scales and want to cry, be it a gain or a loss. But despite all that, I just keep going. Something in me wont let me not.

Because you see I’m not finished yet. I still have further to go than some people ever do, but I have lost more than I need to lose and that’s a great feeling.

Hey what am I saying, I haven’t lost this weight. It’s gone. I have no intention of finding it again!

So the coming year? Who knows. I still have no idea of what my final target weight will be, or even should be. It was so far away I couldn’t even think about it before. Perhaps this year I will. I have my next interim target (to lose 2 more stone, making a total of 8 stone) to reach and I’m happy enough with that for now. Scales aside, who knows? I’m looking forward to buying a new winter coat to replace my old size 24 one. I want to take up yoga or pilates. Little things really.

Most of all I want to keep this happy, confident feeling. I feel like I’m visible for the first time in so long, I don’t want to fade again.

See her? That’s Lisa that is.

Have a great week

xxxxx