Adults with Autism

Going To A Hair Salon

Autism & Hair Salon Struggles

For an adult with autism, going to a hair salon can be challenging due to a range of sensory sensitivities and difficulties with social interactions. The salon environment can be overwhelming, with loud noises from hairdryers, strong smells from hair products, and unfamiliar tactile sensations from various tools. Additionally, the social aspects of the salon, such as small talk with the stylist or being in close proximity to other clients, may cause anxiety and discomfort. The unpredictability of the experience and the need to tolerate physical touch can further contribute to the difficulty.

However, with some preparation and strategies, you can navigate the social aspects of the salon experience more comfortably. Here are some tips to help you handle a visit to the salon:

Modern Hair Salon

Research & Choose the Right Salon

Look for a salon that is known for its inclusive and understanding environment. Seek recommendations from other neurodiverse individuals or check online reviews to find a salon where the staff is friendly, patient, and accommodating.

Appointment Calendar Events Concept

Schedule an Appointment

Call ahead to schedule your appointment rather than walking in. This way, you can plan your visit and avoid potential stress or sensory overload from a busy salon environment.

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Prepare a Visual Schedule

Create a visual schedule or checklist outlining the steps involved in a typical salon visit. Include tasks like checking in, discussing the desired hairstyle, shampooing, cutting, styling, and paying. Having a visual guide can provide structure and reduce anxiety by knowing what to expect.

autism hair salon

Communicate Your Needs

If you feel comfortable doing so, inform the receptionist and stylist that you have autism to help them make accommodations. For example, you might mention a sensitivity to certain smells, textures, or sounds. Clear communication will help the staff understand your requirements and create a more comfortable experience for you.

autism hair salon

Bring a Comfort Item

If you have comfort items or sensory tools that help you relax, such as fidget toys, noise-canceling headphones, or a weighted blanket, consider bringing them with you to the salon. These items can provide a sense of familiarity and help regulate sensory input during the appointment.

autism hair salon
autism hair salon

Use Visual Aids

If you find it challenging to verbally communicate your desired hairstyle, consider bringing pictures or visual references. Show the stylist images of the haircut or style you prefer, as it can be easier to convey your preferences visually.

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Set Expectations & Ask Questions

It's okay to ask questions about the process and express any concerns you may have. Understanding what is happening and why can alleviate anxiety. Ask about each step and the expected duration, as well as any styling products or tools being used.

Woman drinking coffee or tea and having a quiet moment.

Practice Self-Care

Remember to take care of yourself throughout the salon visit. If you need breaks during the process, let the stylist know. Consider taking deep breaths or engaging in calming techniques to help manage any stress or sensory overload you may experience.

man with glasses listening to music with headphones

Focus on Relaxation Techniques

Find ways to relax and distract yourself during the appointment. You can bring a book, listen to calming music with headphones, or engage in deep breathing exercises. These techniques can help you stay calm and focused on something other than the salon environment.

autism hair salon

Provide Feedback & Express Gratitude

After your visit, if you had a positive experience, take a moment to provide feedback to the salon staff. Let them know what aspects of their approach made you feel more comfortable or appreciated. Expressing gratitude can encourage understanding and may create a more inclusive environment for future visits.

autism hair salon

Guide Disclaimer

The information provided in this social guide for adults with autism is intended for general guidance and support. While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content, it is important to remember that each individual’s needs and experiences may vary. This guide is not a substitute for personalized professional advice or assistance.

We strongly recommend consulting with a healthcare professional, autism specialist, or any other relevant expert who can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. They can offer additional strategies, accommodations, and resources that may better address your unique challenges and goals.