Autistic World – A trip to the hairdresser


I can’t speak out loud right now. That’s how it is for me after a trip to the hairdressers.

It’s been 6 months since the last haircut and my attempts at hacking at it in the meantime have meant that I really need to get it fixed. I’d happily shave it all off again, except my 3 year old son is deeply attached to my hair. He calls me his ‘girl with long orange hair’.

I spent 3 months of Googling and searching the city for a hairdresser that met my requirements – cheap (there’s no way I’m paying $100 for a haircut), walk ins permitted (I can never commit to an actual booking, who knows how I’ll be feeling on the day?) and a sound system that’s set to mild discomfort rather than earth thumping. You can’t wear your noise cancelling headphones while having your hair cut. It’s a problem.

Having found somewhere on a day that I felt up to it, in I went. I had a picture of a haircut to show her. That’s easier than talking. I was the only one in the place, so it started ok. Then she said she had to wash it and I failed to say no. This is what happens to me at hairdressers. I have strong internal dialogue reminding myself to say out loud in real words that I don’t want it washed, I don’t want it blow dried and I don’t want any sticky ‘product’ in it.

I got all three.

Of course I did. I check my power at the door at these places. I don’t accurately remember exactly what happened in the one hour that I was in there (a whole fucking hour??). I just remember the feelings. Intense aversion when she washed my hair and MASSAGED MY SCALP. Please stop it, I screamed. But only in my head.

Panic settling in for a long stay when the blow dryer was aimed at my face and the hot air mixed with chemical smell and I couldn’t take an in breath even though I knew I’d have to soon or I’d slowly lose consciousness and surely she has to stop soon because how can anyone manage this experience and survive? I sort of gulped in air when I felt myself grow dangerously dizzy and some how survived.

Anger when she spent over 30 minutes straightening my hair when I’d told her I wear it natural. Why would anyone iron their hair? It smells bad. It pulls on your scalp. And I looked nothing like me when it was done.

By now the internal voice was just a scream and I accepted that it was all wrong and the only way through this was to take myself far away outside of my body. This is a skill I have developed over the years so I used it then to float fragile like over to the left of my body, remembering to breath in and out as required.

Of course I told her it was perfect. I had no script for ‘I just paid you $70 for an experience that I will now need to spend a whole week recovering from and it’s highly likely I’m done with hairdressers forever after this’.

I scampered off to the nearest bathroom and used as much water as I could to make the straightening go away and return me to me. Covered in sticky smell, I at least managed to leave the bathroom with enough self recognition that I could inhabit my body again.

And of course I hate it. It’s nothing like the picture I showed her. But getting it fixed means going through the whole ordeal again and fuck that for another 6 months. Maybe forever if I can convince someone I know to learn to cut hair.

I told my husband not to mention my hair. He’s left me alone with my Lego. He may not be happy when I tell him it’s probably up to him to fix the hair.

I’m not really talking out loud again yet. I can still feel the blow drying, her hands on my scalp and the straightening iron pulling at my head. I can still feel the disappointment of once again not being able to clearly communicate that I just want my hair cut and no blow dry and no torture devices and no hair wash and no sticky goo and no small talk.

Autistic World – a trip to the movies


I recently braved a trip to the movies. This happens infrequently. Movies are dicey. They might work out ok. They might not. Below is my side of a four way conversation that I had with three other autistic friends who totally understand the gravity of a trip to the movies.

ATM’s are really too hard for me now. Has anyone noticed that there seems to be an extra couple of steps in the process of getting money out?

I only shop with pay wave. I’m not exchanging money with anyone hand to hand.

Approaching cinema. The only chance this trip has of working out is if no one sits beside me, directly in front or behind me.

Practicing my ticketing conversation.

Oh god, I adlibbed. And he didn’t respond. Fail. See, should have booked online.

Now for the toilet.

Managed to use toilet without touching any surface. But the toilet roll confused me and destabilized me momentarily. How the fuck do those round toilet roll dispensers work??

Managed to claw off a remnant.

Felt need to wash hands anyway. I should have taken a photo of the sink options. There were no buttons and no taps moved. And there were 3 of them. WTF does 3 taps mean???

Even though I made a strong mental note of where I stored my ticket, I had a small terror when I tried to locate it after my toilet trip. I found it but my hands were wet – because I’m not using those heat dryers in the toilet. I can SMELL the bacteria swarming on those things. So my ticket is soggy.

Ok seating so far pleasantly tolerable. I got back row so that rules out anyone sitting behind me. I have 8 seats vacant to my left. With an elderly couple after that. I’m ruling them likely to cause me no problems. Empty to my right so far. I have two guys in front to my right. Not youths so could be fine.

Teenage girls making some high pitched noises 4 rows in front of me. Potential phone checkers during the movie.

Momentary blip when I couldn’t sight my bag. Whew. It was right where I put it.

One problem I hadn’t anticipated. Locating myself in centre back turns out to be a fairly popular option. How are so many adults free at this time on a Monday? I figured it had to be the least popular session time of ALL of them. There are 36 people here. And I think more will come. Doesn’t anyone work?

When I come again in two years time, I will choose a side position. But that gives an imperfect view of the screen. AAAAARGH. I can’t solve this problem!! I can’t solve this problem!!

So far, people aren’t making too outlandish a choice in their snacks. I’ve only seen one of those crazy coloured soda drink things. So I’m at level ‘mildly disapproving’.

Ok. Have snacks ready, have had last minute water. Assessed toilet need and I think I’ll make it.

Ok. It’s starting. I’ll see you on the other side. Going dark.

Hi! I’m still here. Fuck there’s a lot of ads.

Should I eat my snacks now or when it goes dark? Um. Well. I don’t know. I’ll think about it later. The ads have started and I forgot to play the alphabet game where you find the letters of the alphabet in order from A-Z in the ads. I’ve never made it to Z.

The ads are really annoying. I forgot about ads. They have people in them that I just don’t relate to on any level.

Should have played the alphabet game.

The woman 2 seats away is eating hot chips. There’s an aroma. I wish we lived in a country where you could wear one of those face masks out without people thinking you had Ebola.

People are laughing at some ad with a dog doing something silly in it.

First stirrings of level ‘highly irritated’.

Dude on his own with large overcoat and headphones on just walked in. Welcome brother.

Oh I totally forgot what I was seeing!! Awesome!!!

Just checked that my headphones are turned off for the 6th time. They are.

Am I irritating anyone with my constant msg’s? Oh fuck, I might be.

See that seamless use of msg’s? That stands for messages. It took me three times as long to type it because of auto correct.

Trailer with Tom Cruise came on. Audible groan from audience. That’s hopeful.

SERIOUSLY? Someone cast Ben Affleck in another superhero role?

Oh this is bad news. The new Terminator film has the actress who plays Daenerys in Game of Thrones as Sarah Connor. Totally ruined. She’s not Sarah Connor. She’s Daenerys. The highlight of my movie viewing happens about every 3 years when a new Terminator movie is released. Ruined.

Going dark.

I’m back! So the good things were no one in the audience pissed me off and my need to go to the toilet remained at bearable.

The movie was ok. Lots of people getting eaten, which cheered me. But the lead guy is the same actor in everything at the moment and his shirts are too tight. There’s no way they could be comfortable under the armpits that tight.

And the lead woman wore high heels. While being chased by a T. rex. I cringed every time she was in shot. The dinosaurs won though which was hopeful.

I’m definitely getting some Jurassic Lego now.

Next mission –

Toilet. Then sushi.

No queue at the toilets and those sensor taps are fucking awesome! I didn’t have to touch a thing.

Except the soap has a gross scent. Will have to hand sanitize it away.

Hipsters in business suits look really funny.

Walking home. #success