Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nail Cutting - The Bridge of Death

There are many bridges to cross as an autie family.

There is the fickle Bridge of  Trying Food That Is Not Pureed, which I'm beginning to believe is a hallucinatory side-effect of surviving on caffeine and raspberry jam.  Every time I think I've found it, it seems to sneakily change it's co-ordinates.  
Damn you, raspberry jam.

There is the difficult-to-locate Bridge of Not Bolting From Your Mother In Public While She Is Wearing Heels.  When I try to cross this bridge I can never tell if it is the wind whistling through the floor boards I hear, or the distant sound of mocking laughter. 

My favourite is the Bridge of Continence, which we crossed with the assistance of dogged tenacity, Sherpa Tenzing and the sale of my soul to Beelzebub.  I burned that one as soon as we crossed it because we are never , ever going back.

 But for Finian, the ultimate Bridge of Death has to be toenail cutting

My son was looking less like a 7 year old boy and more like an untrimmed (but surprisingly handsome) mountain goat.

It was fast approaching that time when I had to muster all the able-bodied males in our house to pin him down while I clipped his blades of glory.
You may have gathered, that Finian is less than co-operative when it comes to personal grooming.

I really wanted to approach the toe-nail shearing armed with something other than staple guns, buffalo sedatives and a cattle crush, so my trusty adviser Google was prayed to for enlightenment.

A quick search  showed that Finian is in excellent company.

What is laughingly referred to as issues with nail trimming, goes together with autism like napalm and warfare.

Many excellent ideas were suggested (sensory distraction, involvement in the process, rewarding), attempted and discarded.

The distraction thing categorically  Did Not Work.

I tried promising him "cut toe nails first, then coke" (just about his favourite thing on earth) and what killed me is that he really tried.  He repeated what I said, he made eye contact and inched his toes towards me...only to snatch them away at the last second.   It was just to awful for him to bear.

Temple Grandin said that even though most of us don't find nail cutting painful, that the autisitc person may perceive it that way.
But short of access to an anaesthetist and some propofol, we had to once again resort to muscle (us) and screaming (him).
I wish evolution would catch up with autism with the proviso that if you have autism, you also get pretty, self-manicuring nails.
It only seems fair.


  1. Finian is in the exalted company of Hugh when it comes to nail cutting. Mind you, have you ever had somebody else cut your toe nails for you? I once got John to cut mine when my bump precluded me from doing so and I nearly levitated it was such an unpleasant experience. Autism traits? Sensitive souls? Grey area...

  2. Yeah, this sends my son right over the edge. Don't even get me started on giving haircuts. Seems we're all in good company!

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  4. All three of my kids - including the non-verbal one - complained about toe-nail cutting when they were little. The girls got over it and aspie boy? Well he keeps his own nails short now, very short, without using scissors and I don't watch *buries head in sand again*

  5. @ Blue Sky, sometimes ignorance is bliss XXX

  6. @ Alison,only cool people get to be autistic and seeing as you levitate you definitely qualify
    @ Lizbeth, oh god the hair....

  7. Argh, toe nail cutting is horrible, isn't it??

    Max has now accepted regular hand-nail cutting, and will, albeit grudgingly, put his hands out for me to cut them off.

    His feet are just far too sensitive. I pretty much need to squash him into a corner of the sofa with as much strength as I dare (without, you know, suffocating him) to keep his feet still while I cut them.

    Poor wee sod.

    They're becoming sweaty boy-feet now, too. Instead of cute lil kid/baby feet.

    The HORROR of cutting a fully grown man's feet when he's grown.


    (I am not a foot person at the best of times. They give me the heebies!)

  8. @autismmumeire I caught sight of my Toms today, and it dawned on me I cant remember the last time I done them, I said Tom your nails need cutting and he said no they don't, It usually takes a few days for me to convince him and then I have to be quick or I might only get one done. To be honest in the last couple of years I have only done them about twice a year(o God)but seeing them today,they did'ent look THAT bad ,so I was wondering if you ignore them long enough might they stop growing. Thankyou for bringing this brittle subject to mind in a fun kind of way:-))
    PS I am new at this, so I don't really know about urls and other options which is why I put anonymous.

  9. He's 5. I did them today. they looked like rhinoceros tusk. he says "ow ow ow!" and tries to hold his feet under him. I find getting one nail off successfully and then showing him the clippings and saying "that's not right" with a perplexed expression invariably helps, since impropriety usually trumps his discomfort. It's as though he sees the humor in it and lets me help him correct it.