Getting A Haircut If Tactile Defensive
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.