No change please! ASD Youngest and the hair tong dilemma: Can you decide?

Tania writes:

Yesterday it was my birthday and I was very pleased to receive some wave-making hair tongs to bring a spot of variety to my poker-straight locks.

The scene of the crime

I gave them a try that evening as we were going out for a family dinner to our favourite Italian (Il Colosseo in Farnborough in case you're interested). I was pretty pleased with the results and went to show Asperger's Youngest (almost 14) who was, as usual, ensconced in the Technolair.

He broke off from his laptop for a moment to have a look and I could tell by his face that it wouldn't be good.

"You look like a Disney Princess," he said. "I don't like it." He gave me a hard glare and turned back to his computer.

I was, actually, rather pleased with looking like a princess, especially given my advanced years - although there is always the danger of looking a bit mutton.

This reminded me of when I (obviously mistakenly) wore some purple crushed velvet leggings- something quite different and unusual for me. Youngest pointed at them and asked, "What is that fiasco? Take them off."

When I told him I wasn't going anywhere and no one would see me he replied that he would see me, because, of course, that was all that mattered. I have never worn them again.

Youngest, like many children with ASD, finds change very difficult and for him, this is only getting worse as he gets older. It particularly includes anything different about me. As the central person in his life, he likes me to be the same at all times. He also doesn't like me being away, which can make life difficult.

Don't mention the hair...

When we got to the restaurant, me still with the dreaded waves intact, I made the mistake of mentioning to my sister-in-law, within Youngest's hearing, that he was unhappy with my Disney Princess look. This, of course, reminded him of his unhappiness and that, coupled with the noise of the restaurant, was too much. He refused to speak or to order any main course or eat any birthday cake and sat plugged into his iPad for most of the rest of the evening.

It was only near the end of the evening, when he pulled up the familiar images on his iPad of his carefully-painted Warhammer figures that he began to relax and managed to have some after-dinner mints.

I could have kicked myself for mentioning the hair when we were at the restaurant. It's a bit like the Fawlty Towers German/war scene: Don't mention the hair. I mentioned it once and I think I got away with it.  I got away with it in the house, but alas, the second time meant the evening teetered on the edge of disaster.

I think it illustrates how easy it is to slip up when you're walking on eggshells most of the time. Life is not normal, even though your kids have no visible sign of disability. I wasn't thinking about the repercussions of careless talk.

When we got home, I tied my hair back but it wasn't enough. This morning I went into him with freshly washed and back-to-normal straight hair. He opened his eyes, looked at it and sighed happily. Everything was as it should be.

So what do I do with the hair tongs? Do I keep using them in the hope he'll just get used to them or pack them away in their box? Help me out and vote below!

Tania Tirraoro
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Tania Tirraoro

Juliana Carson said: – 4 minutes ago Oh you made me smile ! ( Happy Belated Birthday, by the way !! ) You can keep the hair irons and use them again – but the response from the boys will be the same – if nothing else – they are consistant !! It is a bit of a bugger when we try anything new, even if i change the fabric softener – i get a lecture. Nothing must change – not my perfume, fashion, shoes, furniture – even the loo paper must be the same !!! But – i love… Read more »


Happy belated birthday Tania – Thats a beautiful post, I can so relate, my son will be the first to notice any small changes I make, perfumes/clothes/hairstyles/facial expressions etc. Sometimes I feel owned by him – I try and make peaceful compromises – but in the same way he is the first to critique something, he is also the first to compliment (although thats a bit rarer) – Keep tonging girl 🙂 x

Tania Tirraoro

Yes, it’s like having your own personal Simon Cowell!

Tania Tirraoro

Hi Deborah, I will and I will also grow my hair long so I can be more princess-like. Can’t do much about the wrinkles though!


Keep going, little and often. One day it will seem normal. PS you look lovely, happy birthday.

Tania Tirraoro

Thank you! My husband suggested he do his too!


I am so lucky! A few years ago any change to my style would have resulted in a similarly negative response from my AS son. In fact I had it cut once and he burst into tears at the sight of it. So when I wanted to make more extreme changes to my hair more recently, I decided to talk to him about it first, so he was pre-warned about the upcoming change. In fact he said, “It’s your hair, Mum, you can do what you want with it.” This relaxation of the need for things to be the same… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

Great advice!


Keep using them – if you liked the effect?! I think it looked fab! Just remember never to mention your hair again 😉

Tania Tirraoro

Thanks Steph!

Abbie Green

I have had the same problem, and have a wardrobe of unworn skirts as I have to wear jeans. What helped me was exploring why my son didn’t like me to change, why I had to wear the same swimsuit or the same jeans and t-shirts. it turns out that he doesn’t recognise people by their faces but by what they are wearing or in some cases their voices. This came to light when we had twins walking our dogs, one was a goth with long black hair, the other a normal teenager with shoulder length brown hair. He couldn’t… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

Yvonne Melia said: – 6 hours ago
Hello Sister, how I laughed at your blog! Can I change my vote please? I vote keep using them and don’t mention it next time, maybe just around the house at first until he stops noticing. Remember (back to the war reference), careless talk costs lives. We hope you had a lovely day anyway, sorry I am so hopeless with birthday cards, we LOVE your Disney Princess curls and think you look beautiful (especially Eliza). Love xxx

Helen Renouf

I would say you need to do whatever makes you happy – I voted for the hair tongs – but it is what make’s you feel happy, feel good about yourself and makes you feel alive. I firmly believe that if the battle is worth winning, then it is worth fighting… and have learnt up my journey that you need to fight larger so you are happy with the compromise that follows….. so get out the facepaint and once you spend the day face painted as a pig complete with a nose ring, with beautiful curled locks…. you might win… Read more »