19th September 2014
This is an example of how by implementing a procedure of small steps a child with autism can successfully get a haircut.
Getting a haircut was very traumatic for Ryan; he had to be physically held while kicking/screaming and attacking anyone within proximity when his hair had to be cut. This was then targeted using a haircutting programme individualised for Ryan. Baseline data indicated that Ryan engaged in the described behaviours in order to escape the presence of the clippers. To reduce the likelihood of these behaviours occurring every time it was decided to use scissors instead – no noise and less sensation. The first step was for Ryan to sit appropriately when the instruction for “time for haircutting” was given. He was reinforced for engaging in this appropriate behaviour (money was the reinforcer that was used based on a preference assessment). Once Ryan consistently engaged in this behaviour as determined by the data the next step was to move on through the programme: holding scissors closer and closer to Ryan’s head until eventually one snip of hair was removed. Reinforcement was provided throughout all aspects of the programme. Ryan, when now told that it is time for a haircut will now sit for the full duration without requiring physical guidance or engaging in any of the avoidance behaviours.