Monday, December 7, 2009

To Give a Boy a Hair Cut

Sensory issues can be a part of Down Syndrome. By that I mean people with Down Syndrome have a higher likelihood of being oversensitive or under-sensitive with one or more of their senses. A person might be oversensitive to sounds, and get frightened or overwhelmed by loud noises. Or, a person could be under-sensitive to taste, and so want to eat very spicy foods.

Charlie has a little bit of under-sensitivity and oversensitivity. He tends to be under-sensitive in his mouth, and seeks out extra sensation by chewing on his hands or, you know, whatever. He tends to be oversensitive on his face, body and hands, and gets very worried or anxious when he spills on himself when trying to drink, or gets paint on his hands during crafts.

He also happens to get extremely agitated and upset when hair clippings fall on his face, neck, and body. Giving Charlie a hair cut is a ridiculous affair. I cut as fast as I can while Ray pulls out all the stops to try to distract Charlie from his experience. (And let me add, when you barely know what you are doing, a moving, screaming target does not make for a very even-looking hair cut.) Then, after the trauma of the hair cut, which involves much crying and squirming despite Ray's valiant and silly antics, we still need to get in the bath and get wet to wash all the hair away (which is a whole 'nother dilemma!).

Enter the FLOWBEE.

You might remember an infomercial in the 80's and early 90's for a hair-cutting invention that you hook up to your vacuum cleaner. The device has a set of clippers and attachments that you add to get the length of hair you want. Then you vacuum your hair while the Flowbee cuts.

It was a fellow mom of a child with Down Syndrome who suggested we try the Flowbee. That was months and months ago, and I admit, when she suggested we try it all I could picture was Garth from Wayne's World flailing his arms and yelling, "It's sucking my will to live!" while having his hair vacuumed by a prop meant to mock the Flowbee. I just could not bring myself to buy one.

Well, just like I thought I would NEVER own a minivan, sometimes necessity takes over, and I placed a wanted add on Craigslist for a used Flowbee. I was surprised when the same day a woman got back to me who wanted to give us her used Flowbee. (A savings of $70!)

So yesterday afternoon we got out the Flowbee for trial numero uno.


First I sat down with Charlie and we watched video's of other kids getting Flowbee hair cuts on YouTube. We talked about their hair getting vacuumed and cut by the Flowbee. We watched how fun it was. Charlie was getting really excited and was laughing at the kids in the videos, and saying "Owbee! Owbee!"

Next, I brought the box with the Flowbee out and gave it to Charlie as if it were a wonderful gift. He thought is was most fortunate, indeed! And, when I asked him if he wanted a "Flowbee hair cut," the answer was a definite Yes!


We set up our little barber shop in the kitchen, with vacuum, Flowbee, and mirror. Charlie was really excited! When I turned it on he was less excited, but very tolerant. It was pretty loud with the vacuum and the Flowbee running all at once. He got a kick out of watching his hair get sucked up into the tube.

Whenever I turned it off he would point to it and say, "Owbee! On!" When we were done he kept rubbing his head and saying, "Air cut! Owbee air cut!"

Here he is giving brother an "owbee air cut" with the vacuum hose attachment, complete with motor sound effects.

The hair cut looks really good, and is very even. It took 5 minutes, and most important, no tears! Oh, no mess either, which was a cool bonus.

I will close by simply adding...

I {heart} Flowbee.

Oh, and...

I love the way that God gives us just what we need. I'm sure a comb and scissors will certainly do for most folks, but we needed something different for our sweet Charlie, and God... well, He provides.


Lisa said...

That is great! Yea!

Stacy said...

Oh my, I'm going to have to look for one of those for my boys!! Haircuts are torturer for them as they both have SID too. Hummm... Thanks for the idea :)

katie said...

I love the story!

TnT said...

oh man, this is awesome. i can't believe you have a flobee. how cool is that?

Bethany said...

Oh my gosh, that is hysterical!! So I guess the cartoons and lollipops are not enough to convince him to get his hair cut? LOL

Donnie Allison & Micah said...

"moving, screaming target"...that part made me laugh! Reminded me of when I would try to give Chloe a haircut.

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