Getting A Haircut If Tactile Defensive


(Ohio)

I have a family asking for any suggestions to help them trim/cut their 4 y/o son's hair without having to physically hold him down and have him get so upset. Their son does have tactile defensiveness issues and has done well with heavy work/deep pressure acts and a brushing program. He does fine with having his hair washed.


Oh, getting a haircut when you are tactile defensive... what a nightmare it can be! Trust me, I have one of those children.

Anyway, there are several things that may help. See if any of these might work:

1. Make sure to read Oral Defensiveness; Making Dentist Visits More Tolerable. This article has MANY of the same techniques to use that are also used for helping with haircuts.

2. Massage head and give deep pressure input to head and shoulders prior to the appointment. And, do the Wilbarger Protocol (Deep Pressure Proprioceptive Technique... the new name for the "brushing" protocol).

3. Talk to the hairdresser/barber prior to the appointment about his needs. Find one that will work with him and be as patient and as gentle as possible (even if "bribed" with a bigger tip). Once you find one that works, STICK with them at all costs.

4. Go at the child's pace and comfort level. Do not force it... baby steps. Bangs one time? The back and sides another?

5. Make sure he has control over how often he needs to have the hair brushed off his neck and face with powder or a cool blow dryer. This is often the most disturbing part. Make sure hair is WET so less hair drops on him.

6. Wash hair at home, not at the barber's, so he doesn't have to tip his head backwards. Have him or mom spray the water on the hair to cut so he feels safer.

7. Make sure the hairdresser does not have long nails, as they may bother him if touched or scratched by them.

8. Practice at home and find out which feels better... a buzzing/vibrating hair cutting tool or scissors. Buzzing is quicker and may feel better. Give him earplugs or earphones though if it is the noise of the clippers that bothers him. Get him used to vibration on his head through play with different toys that vibrate.

9. Allow him to wear a fun "visor-type" hat (they make animal ones) right above his eyebrows to catch any hair that may fall. Give him a towel to wipe his own face and allow him to do so as things bother him.

10. Make sure to read my upcoming newsletter... coming out this week on Thursday, December 6th... it is all about sensory defensiveness! If reading this after that, go to my newsletter page and click on the back issues, find December 2007, issue #21 about The Wilbarger Protocol.

11. Make sure he has a mirror to hold and see himself in. Let him see all things going on and make sure he has verbal cues prior to any movements or cutting action. OR, if the lights are too bright in the salon/barber shop, let him wear sunglasses.

12. Use firm brush or comb strokes and press down on top of head and shoulders while getting hair cut.

13. If cutting at home do it in the shower or tub where the hair can be rinsed off right away.

14. If he has had a bad experience, try to find someone else he likes, to try it with him after doing all preparatory activities.

I hope this and the dentist article I referred to in the beginning gives you a good start.

Comments for Getting A Haircut If Tactile Defensive

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Dec 30, 2014
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Bathtub and haircuts
by: Hkc

Our 3 year old son has sensory issues. Until he was 2 years old he sat calmly for his haircuts, but for the past 18 months haircuts have been torture for everyone. We have tried multiple barbers/stylists many who claim to specialize in children with special needs and we have tried multiple tactics. None have been successful and I'm convinced the more aggressive tactics of holding and forcing the haircut are only reinforcing his fight or flight response and put him in a panic. The worst of which was a 3 hour trip to a barbershop with his father where 4 it took 2 barbers and his father holding him down with the clippers to get his hair cut. We decided after this that would not happen again.

I'm convinced that for our son, the salon/barber shop is too much of a sensory overload for him. Since he won't wear a cape and the sound of the scissors or buzzer puts him in a state of panic, we decided to institute a "snip a day" program where I take a small snip off his hair. We also allowed him to snip my husbands and my hair in the beginning. One day while taking a bath he requested that I snip his hair while taking a bath. There's a lot to be said for cutting hair in the bathtub for children who are not afraid of the water. The child is surrounding by the weight of the water which can be soothing, there is no need for a cape, and any itchy hairs can be washed off immediately. We've worked up to the point where he will let me cut his hair for 15 minutes and he is fairly comfortable with this. My only problem is that I have no idea how to cut hair and is doesn't look that great.

I'd love to find someone who understands kids with sensory issues and who can come to my home and cut his hair in the bathtub. I'd be willing to pay 3 times the cost of a typical haircut for him to have a positive experience and to get a presentable haircut.


Sep 02, 2013
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5 minutes swinging before haircut
by: Anonymous

5 minutes on our indoor swing just before the haircut is amazing. I can recommend it

Jul 07, 2013
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I am researching all outlets
by: Anonymous

I am a hair dresser that will be looking into getting a one room studio that is enclosed but spacious and but am trying to research what I may want in my studio due to my speciality of working with special needs children with SPD and other conditions. But this is my idea please feel free to give feedback everything will help. On the side note my god son is Aspebergers, ODD, ADHD with anxiety and multiple SPDs

i need some serious opinions from all of the parents especially parents with children with special needs, SPD and so on.

What would think if you could bring your child or children to a single chair studio salon and be the only ones there with no distractions, possibly bring their favorite movie to watch or to play the ipad well they get a trim. As well as give your child who may need a chance to have a personal walk through of the salon and be able to touch, feel and hear the sounds that they will experience when they are there.(minus the scissors) the day before if needed. At a low cost of $15-25.

Please i would love the feed back, it could be a difference to all children that get their hair done.

Maybe even a visit to the salon without tears or fears and maybe possibly a giant smile, some laughs and a moment of relief that they are looking forward to coming to get a haircut!!!

May 07, 2012
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GREAT ARTICLE
by: Anonymous

what an excellent article! I am so glad i found this and we will be trying these tips for my sons next hair cut and i am also going to print this article and give it to my salon. thank you so much for all the advice and tips from other parents too. im so glad to know we are not alone and there are other kids like my son.

Dec 13, 2010
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Hair cuts
by: Anonymous

Ive read everyones comments about hair cuts and how difficult they can be. Sorry to hear. My now 4 yr old is tactile defensive also. He started getting his hair cut at 10 mths old. We never had a problem with him because we distracted him with suckers. He doesnt like the white band around his neck, which we just dont have them put on, and we keep his hands out from under the cape. He does complain about getting hair on him, but we just try to keep it off as much as possible, and remind him that we'll get it off when we are all done. Distracting him with candy has worked great for us. He looks forward to getting haircuts bc he knows he'll get the candy. Works for us, maybe it can work for one of you ;)

Nov 01, 2010
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hair cuts for kids with sensory issues
by: little trim

Little trim was founded while introducing Joshua to the concept of getting a haircut on a regular bases.

This may not sound like a big deal but getting a hair cut to Joshua WAS like receiving torture because Joshua has sensory issues.

Because for Joshua every snip of the scissors, every pull of the hair, or buzz of the clipper represented fear, pain and even discomfort.
Joshuas first haircut was ok maybe because he's sensory issues had yet to be develop however, as time when on this became an intolerable experience for him.... To the point of getting a haircut will required physical restrain. I knew as a parent that his road to independence will required him getting over this fear, so one day he can walk in to a barber shop on his own and ask for a hair cut with out fear or discomfort.
This process is not gonna happen over night that's why little trim is about building big trust.... We work with you and your child to begin this journey by understanding your Childs needs and not through force and restrain.

As we all know no two children aren't exactly alike this is why little trim tailors a plan to fit the need of each individual child since we find that a "one size fits all" approach really ends up not fitting. lots of patience and love since is a long process just like teaching them to speak or write or something as simple as eating.

pls feel free to write if theres any way i can help.

littletrim1@gmail.com

Sep 07, 2010
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Frustrated Mom
by: Anonymous

I thought my son was the only one who refused to get his hair cut. He screams and cries and my husband and I have to hold him down and use the clippers on him. I have tried to bribe him with several things but he is getting older and it doesn't work anymore. This morning I took him to a lady he likes who has cut it before, but no luck. I tried to cut it with scissors but he won't have it.I feel like a bad mom when i take him somewhere and I couldn't even brush his hair while my two year old daughter will let me do anything with hers.

Jun 07, 2010
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squeeze
by: Anonymous

We shave my son as well! Sometimes it helps to hold in between our legs while the other shaves him.

Mar 07, 2010
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More tolerable haircuts
by: Anonymous

My three year old was just diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and will probably be diagnosed with sensory defensiveness. Hair cuts were torture for both of us. He wouldn't wear the cape and the hair on his face, arms, hands, and legs would make him crazy. The sound of the buzzer bothered him too. By chance came across a barber that has a buzzer with a vacuum on it. Almost no hair falls and haircuts have become more pleasant. He's still a little nervous about the buzzer, but we are working on that. Make some calls to local barber shops. I hope you find one with the same.

Nov 12, 2009
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Hair cuts
by: Anonymous

I have a 3 year old and we've taken him 3 times to get a hair cut, with no luck. Everyone thinks he is a girl. we try cutting it at home while hes screaming and kicking. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Jul 24, 2009
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WHAT WORKED FOR US...
by: Anonymous

My son is 8 years old and still cringes when he gets his hair cut. Up until he was about 6 or 7 even I still had to hold his hands down so that he would not put them in his face and end up with hair all in his mouth. Over a year ago we found a hair salon that had a playstation for the kids to play with while getting their hair cut. This has helped him tremendously to sit still and not be as bothered by the buzzer or scissors snipping away in his ears!!!

GOOD LUCK!!

Jul 22, 2009
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Haircut
by: Anonymous

My son is 7yrs old and has a very sensitive head i have found a great hairdresser who talks to my son so that by the time he relizes that he is touching his head he is finished we do get repercussions after wards but that is solved by a beanie.

Jul 03, 2009
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hair cuts
by: Anonymous

Not sure how old this post is..


We cut my sons hair at home, while he watches his favorite movie, we do it every week or every other.. and on off weeks we show him the shaver and let him hold it etc.. It has helped a lot

May 29, 2009
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A strange use for cling film
by: Val

I have trouble with the hair falling on my son's skin. He still refuses to have it cut. It did help to wrap clingfilm around his neck,making holes for his ears but it was not perfect. I was wondering if there is a product out there that does this more efficiently.He won't have his hair cut in the bath unfortunately.

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