For children with sensory issues, sensitivity to haircuts can be a nightmare. Here are some simple tools and ideas that have worked for my son that may work for your child!
For sensitivity to haircuts, there are so many factors to consider. If your child says the hair hurts, it could be related to falling on him. I read a book written by a non-speaking autistic girl who said that when she gets her hair cut, the pieces of hair falling on her skin feel like thousands of little razor blades. My son, with sensory issues, is also sensitive to hair falling on him. We cut his hair at home and have tried getting him to wear a cape as hairdressers use, but he can’t tolerate that either because it’s too tight around his neck.
So we use a product called the AirCut that could be worth trying. It’s basically like a Flowbee, but instead of having to attach something to your vacuum cleaner, it just plugs directly into your wall. We tried it for my son last summer, and it didn’t work out for him because he wouldn’t let us anywhere near him with it. However, I tried it on my younger son to model the process. It worked well. My younger son said it didn’t pull at all. Also, it did a good job of sucking up everything it was cutting so the hair wasn’t falling on his shoulders. The best part is that the company has a good 30-day return policy. So you can try it risk-free. Since it didn’t work for us, we could send it back for a full refund. Their customer service was excellent.
Another thing we have tried to deal with sensitivity to haircuts that has worked pretty well for my son is Calming Clippers. These won’t help with the hair falling on his skin, but they are a great replacement for electric clippers. These function similarly to electric clippers in terms of the cut you get with them. However, they eliminate the noise and make it easier to prevent pulling sensations, which my son is incredibly sensitive to.
Something else I found helpful is providing some calming/regulating sensory input before attempting a haircut. Deep pressure is very calming for my son. Giving him a massage and/or brushing him with a Wilbarger Brush before a haircut can help. If you’re not familiar with the Wilbarger brush and/or protocol, I don’t recommend trying that without the guidance of an Occupational therapist. If you don’t do it correctly, it can be very dysregulating. Speaking of which, a good occupational therapist is a great professional to have on your child’s care team!
We hope the solutions in this article help your child with a sensitivity to haircuts get through their next one!