Haircut tips with sensory issues — The Bump
Special Needs

Haircut tips with sensory issues

DS has never had his hair cut, and it's time.  People are starting to comment on how lovely my little girl is.  Sigh.  He doesn't mind having his hair played with, though he's not really a fan of comb or brush.  Any tips? 

Re: Haircut tips with sensory issues

  • Haircuts are a disaster over here.  My guy can handle just about everything else sensory wise except for haircuts.    Are you planning to take him to a place or do it yourself? 

    I'd prepare him for it as much as possible ahead of time - I believe the Autism speaks has tips on haircuts, social stories etc.  There are lots of kid style places that cater to kids w/ fun chairs, movies, games etc, but depending on the kiddo that could be even worse for sensory overload.

    For us, I've found distractions work best.  Favorite DVD playing, favorite treat, and a stylist who can be patient and very careful about not getting hair on him.  Frequent beaks to wipe hair off so its not itchy and overwhleming too.  A typical haircut for us takes about an hour.  I dread it. 

  • DS hates haircuts.  We actually have someone come to the house who specializes with SN kiddos, and I still have to hold him down (even with a movie playing).
    Zachary, 8.31.2007 * * * Adam, 3.24.2010<BR>

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  • We go to a kids hairdressing place. They give him a lollipop, put on his fav tv show, and there's tons of distractions everywhere. I notice many other kids freaking out, sensory issues or not so they're used to it.


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  • image KC_13:

    We go to a kids hairdressing place. They give him a lollipop, put on his fav tv show, and there's tons of distractions everywhere. I notice many other kids freaking out, sensory issues or not so they're used to it.


    Same here.  We try to schedule the appts first thing in the morning to minimize the crowding and screaming toddlers.  Yes, sensory issues or not, haircuts are SCARY for little ones.  They put in a DVD and we usually bring tons of snacks.  He still cries and cries and "power pouts" as I call it but the stylist is super.  A cut usually takes 15-20 mins.  He's actually getting one this weekend.   

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  • I make an appt first thing in the morning, I tell the hair dresser pls do not make eye contact with my DS, I don't have them put a cape on for the haircut (just bring a change of clothes), he will watch a show on the Ipod, and I hope for the best. The first 10 mins are ok, but then I usually have to hold him for the rest. It takes awhile because I don't have them use the clippers because the noise would freak him out.
  • If your LO is into a favorite book(s), bringing one or two of them has worked really well for us. Also, we always give her the choice of whether to sit by herself in the chair, or sit on my lap while she gets her hair cut. 

    She doesn't have major sensory issues, but it still took quite awhile before she was 100% comfortable. Getting squirted down with a water bottle and having scissors snip around your head/face isn't really fun for anybody, I don't think!  

    Having the books are nice because she holds them in her lap to look at them, and it both distracts her and puts her head automatically at the proper angle for the stylist to cut. 


    DD1, 1/5/2008 ~~~ DD2, 3/17/2010
  • image -auntie-:

    This is where a local support group is invaluable. They'll know the local 411 on whose the go to stylist for sensory kids.

    For most kids, this too shall pass. Lollipops are not great because hair sticks to them and can trigger a meltdown. I really like sugarless gum- chewing gives large joint compression which can help.

    I'm laughing at the lollipop vs hair thing, because that totally happened to me when I was a kid, and I completely flipped the script and refused to have my hair cut for the next decade or so.  I also used to accuse my mom of cutting it while I was asleep. 

  • We give ds the ipod and let him play games while he gets his haircut, and bring candy to distract him as well. My hairdresser also lets him hold an extra comb and that helps keep him happy
  • We go to a kids place too.  We always use the same lady.  She's fast, gentle, and won't do anything that makes him uncomfortable.  He needs to have something to squeeze tightly when he's getting his hair cut.  The last time we went, he actually did rather well.  It's the first time we didn't have to fight him into the chair and strap him down.  He has been getting haircuts there since he was 11 months old.
  • I didn't get to go this weekend but DH said that DS did great.  He let DS play with his iPhone.  We got a bunch of apps which DS loves so he just did that while the stylist did her thing.  The only time he reacted was when she brought out the clippers to do this sideburns and clean him up.  He hates that buzzing sound I think so he started fussing.  But all in all DH said it went better than ever.  

    So my advice in this regard is - if you can find one, go to a kids place. Schedule the appt for as early as you can or for a time when it's quiet so there aren't so many other screaming toddlers and try to to start using the same person each time.  For us it's Yuliya - she's great - fast and gentle.  And bring a distraction - whatever you know will totally engross him/her.  For us, right now, it's the iPhone.   

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