Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘Hair

Tangled

with 22 comments

Before Abby Cadabby, Ernie, around the time of Bashful, but after Upsy-Daisy, there was Sleeping Beauty and all the Disney Princesses.  She still likes Disney Princesses to this day.  So do we.  Having a 4 year-old girl in the house means we have an excuse to indulge ourselves by watching Disney movies.  We have been waiting to add another title to the collection of Pudding approved movies, though popcorn lends an appeal to certain non-Disney choices.

We didn’t get to see Tangled at the cinema, as there was no sensory showing for it, but it looked good from all the clips I saw.  I resolved to buy it when it came out.

I’d read another FS blogger’s post about her daughter being inspired by Tangled to draw a Rapunzel mural on her bedroom wall.  What struck me the most is a comment she made later about Rapunzel dealing with her isolation with art.  The Small Bits family are posted to a Mexican border town, a place that is dangerous and isolating.  I hadn’t thought until that point about what Pudding’s artwork is telling us.  She is in her own way isolated.  Her drawings focus on human faces, particularly the eyes.

I loved it.  Pudding seemed to enjoy it too.  She still cantered away when the popcorn ran out, but every once in a while she would return to check it out.  When I sat down to watch Tangled, I was thinking about it in these terms, and watching it through a lens of Foreign Service isolation.

But not for long.

Rapunzel strokes her hair when she is nervous.  She goes barefoot the entire time.  She yearns to be with other people, but is scared of them.  She is (said to be) clumsy and naive.  There is a whole montage of her swinging, rolling around, and generally sensory-seeking.  Even though she has lived in a tower her entire life, she is not at all afraid of being in water.  She has special talents too.

I’m not saying that Rapunzel is on the spectrum (though if Arthur can do it, I don’t see why Disney can’t go that little bit further).  I’m saying that I viewed Tangled through a spectrummy eye.  Even though I was predisposed to interpret it differently.

It is more than seeing my child in a different way, it is seeing life through an entirely different lens.  The world is altered with my spectrummy eyes.

So if it looks this different to me now, how does Pudding look at the world?  I still don’t know.  But I can tell you that she asked for a Rapunzel doll as her next reward.  Maybe she is starting to see herself through these eyes.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 12, 2011 at 7:42 am

Hair brained

with 17 comments

When Pudding was first handed to me in the delivery room, her tiny hand reached out and grasped onto a lock of my hair, and didn’t let go.  This was the beginning of her love affair with my hair.  Any time she nursed, her hand would reach up, and grab hold.  I’d joke that she was making sure her food supply didn’t wander off.  If I carried her, her fingers would lock on.  There was something primeval about it, clinging on gave my newborn a feeling of security in this confusing world.  I didn’t mind.

That changed.  As the months passed, it became clear that she was very dependent on my hair.  She needed to hold onto some to go to sleep, or while nursing.  She was strong, and I got tired of having my hair pulled all the time.  I knew nothing of sensory processing disorder at the time.  All I knew is that she had a thing for my hair, and I didn’t like it.  I’d put my hair up in a pony tail to keep out of her way, but then she started moving on to other people.

Any woman with long hair was her target.  Time after time I’d pull my toddler off unsuspecting strangers, hoping that one day her sense of boundaries would kick in.  As she got bigger, other kids became her preferred victim of choice, as she could tower over them and touch their hair easily.  Of course, if they tried the same, she would hate it.  Only she was allowed to do the touching.  I didn’t think that was particularly unusual at the time, but I tried to intervene, and give her dolls with hair to pull and twirl.

Finally her own hair started to grow in.  Just before she turned two, she finally had enough of her own hair to play with, and she would stretch the same piece out, and smooth it over with her other fingers in a bid to get to sleep.  She touched my own hair much less often, and began to leave her friends alone too.  Occasionally she would meet a stranger with long or interesting hair, and her old compulsion to touch it returned.  Once she had done so, she was sated, but she needed to get her fix first.

After we moved and her hair continued to grow in, she developed a habit of twirling a section around her fingers.  She continues to do that to this day, and when she is particularly overwhelmed, she moves back to my hair, the original source of comfort.

Cubby has developed a similar habit.  Mercifully he never had the same interest in touching other people’s hair, but he adores mine, Daddy’s works in a pinch too.  His sister will occasionally let him play with hers, but she has to be in the right mood for that.  Several times a day his hands wind up around my tresses, and his tiny nails scratch my scalp.  I feel like an ape being groomed.  Just like Pudding, his hair has taken a long time to grow in.  Only now does he have enough hair to be content to play with to go to sleep, though he still prefers mine.  I’ve tried to cut his hair so he still has enough left to pull.  Admittedly, it looks a little strange.

This hair-pulling or twirling is one example of a “stim”, or self-stimulatory behaviour.  Hair-twirling is a very common habit, especially for young girls, but like hand-flapping, humming, running around in circles, or bouncing up and down, its purpose is to provide appropriate sensory input to calm and regulate, and ultimately cope in a disordered world.  One of Pudding’s therapists mentioned to me that she didn’t like Pudding’s hair stim, to which I responded that she didn’t have to.  She has the ability to twirl her hair and do other things at the same time, so I see no reason to stop her at this point.  This particular stim is about as typical as Pudding can be.  Removing it would likely cause a replacement stim to begin that might be much more socially unacceptable, and potentially harmful.  Instead I advised the therapist to instead reward the use of two hands for an activity if necessary.

I can think of no better way to encourage her to pull out her hair until the point of baldness, than to make her stop touching it.  Though well-intentioned, preventing a stim can be harmful.  My girl needs all the coping methods she can find, and a replacement may be  more stigmatizing, or even harmful.  Hair twirling we can live with, though I may need to order a wig just in case she ever wants to move on to other people again.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 22, 2011 at 8:14 am