Sensory Smart Tip: Cutting her hair? Be prepared!
How often do you think about the weight of your hair? Probably never, but for children with sensory issues, the feel, weight, and movement of their own hair can be extremely distracting. If his hair is trimmed just a bit he may notice how different his head feels for days afterward! A haircut may cause him to have trouble focusing on tasks from schoolwork to eating a meal. And a different hairstyle like braids or an upsweep that involves moving the hair in a different direction and keeping it in this new position may cause tears and cries for painkillers and cold packs.
Discuss new hairstyles and haircuts with your child beforehand so he can anticipate the switch in sensations. Don’t schedule his haircut on a day before he’ll need to be especially focused and free of anxiety: the night before school pictures are taken or before a big test, or the first day of soccer practice. Give him a head massage before cutting (press a vibrator or vibrating toy to his head if he prefers that). Let him hold the buzzing hair clippers and don't use them if the noise and vibration is too unsettling for him. Bring a towel and clip rather than using the scratchy vinyl cape with a Velcro closure, and take along an extra, clean shirt to change into in case he gets hair on his shirt despite the cape. Then, be gentle with him after his haircut, giving him praise and a reward for getting through such an unpleasant experience. Allow him to wear a hat, perhaps a tight, knit one, if it helps him deal with the sensation of less hair on his head.
Beware of the smell and texture of grooming products, as well. Let your child choose which ones are tolerable. Whenever working with sensory children, pay attention to whether the smells of your own grooming products or perfume are distracting or disturbing to them. You may be surprised at just how sensitive their noses can be! Schedule haircuts and trims at a time when the beauty salon or barber isn’t working with smelly perm, straightener, or nail polish, if at all possible. Your sensory child will be glad you did and so will you!
Check it out! Goody Ouchless Comfort Gel Brush, available at www.drugstore.com and other outlets, has bristles that retract when the brush is pulled through the hair, reducing the tugging sensation at the scalp.
Copyright © 2012 Nancy Peske
The information contained in this article is provided as a public service. It is for informational and educational purposes only. This information should not be construed as personal medical advice. Because each person’s health needs are different, a health care professional should be consulted before acting on any information provided in these materials. Although every effort is made to ensure that this material is accurate and up-to-date, it is provided for the convenience of the user and should not be considered definitive.