My youngest son, Lane declared last Sunday haircut day and Lowell and I decided to give our oldest son, Ian his first buzz cut. Sounds pretty normal. So why the blog post? For those of you that don't know Ian, he's non-verbal and has autism. And if you're a parent of a child with autism you have first hand knowledge of why a haircut can present a great challenge. I used to tell stories of how Ian would verbally protest, constantly get out of the chair and swipe Lowell's hand away. Today, I have a new story to share. One of healing, trust and love.
Ian has an incredibly sensitive nervous system with a hair trigger fight or flight response. It's so easy to tell when he doesn't feel safe because he immediately tries to escape the situation. I used to call him my "runner".
We've focused on building a relationship on trust and creating an environment where Ian feels completely safe. We shifted from trying to get him to do things to leading by example and inviting him to join us. It has completely transformed the way Ian connects with us.
As I watch this video, it shows how far we have all come as a family. Ian sits in the chair, allowing Lowell to cut his hair with a machine that vibrates and makes noise. Not once does he swipe his hand away. Lowell's hand gently rests on Ian's shoulder to provide gentle reassurance. Ian is free to move around and get up if he chooses...but he doesn't. He patiently waits for his father to finish.
I sit behind the camera and record the scene. I witness trust, gentleness, and love play out between father, son and brother.
The whole experience makes my heart swell. At the end, when I ask the three of them to pose for the camera, Ian directly references me with a little smile and twinkle in his eyes. He looks so proud of himself.
This sweet little moment in time carries profound meaning for me. It demonstrates how far our entire family has come from those dark days of pain for all of us, especially Ian. He is healing not only himself but his family that gathers lovingly around him.
Thank you, Ian for being such a brave, courageous teacher and inspiration for all that love you.