Hair pulling

by Katie K
(Minneapolis, MN)

My 4 year old daughter has had pretty severe SPD for as long as I can remember noticing signs. Her biggest issue is clothes, but she has never liked anything in her hair. She has been in OT for almost a year, but because of an insurance issue, she hasn't been in OT for about a month now.

My husband and I are currently going through a difficult time and we are thinking of separating or divorcing and she is obviously picking up on the tension around the house. Within the last few weeks she has had some meltdowns any time anyone touches her hair. To rub her head or her hair is is a natural reaction for me if I am hugging her so I have had to try really hard to remember this. She tells me "mom, I told you I don't like you touching my hair". We are in the process of growing out some bangs so again, my natural reaction is to move her hair out of her face when the spray wears off, etc.

Anyways, now, when she gets upset about someone touching her hair she starts to pull at it, rather forcefully. Sometimes she will be sitting and I will see her trying to gently pat her hair in certain places and then all the sudden she will start pulling on it telling me how badly her hair hurts her.

I am worried about the pulling that it will escalate to the point she is actually pulling it out of her head. Wondering if anyone has experienced this before. Not sure if it sensory issues moving from one area to the other, lack of OT or stress from home or a BAD COMBO of them all :(

You can read more about my daughter's story at:

soon to be

thank you in advance for any suggestions or input

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Mar 17, 2010
My sympathies
by: Rachel (Tennessee)

I have a five year old daughter with SPD. She has always been sensitive about her hair too. Just brushing each day is a major ordeal, so I was surprised (to say the least!) when she started pulling her hair out. For her it was definitely a bad combo of stress(mostly from school) and just not getting the sensory input she needed.

At first she was really removing alot of hair! Thankfully with suggestions from our OT and advice online she has nearly stopped pulling altogether now. The first thing you should know is that if she does start pulling out her hair do not draw attention to it! It makes it worse! Instead of telling her to stop distract her with something else to do.

For my girl I keep fidgeting toys like stressballs and sillyputty on hand at all times. Also covering the head can be helpful (to limit childs access to hair) but mine wouldn't have that! Hats are itchy, sweaty etc. I part her hair on the side and braid the top portion to keep hair out of her face and also cover her bald spot. She also has been growing out her bangs. Last of all her OT suggested increasing her heavy work activities and keeping a strict sensory diet for her to give her the input she needs. I truly sympathize with you. Hope that things improve and she doesn't even start pulling it out. But even if she does their is still hope! Hang in there.

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