Dealing with Haircuts: Tips for Kids with SPD

Dealing with Haircuts: Tips for Kids with SPD

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Haircut Sensitivities is essential for parents and caregivers of children with SPD, as it helps them empathize and support the child during haircut experiences.
  • Tips for Preparing Kids with SPD for Haircuts include using visual schedules, social stories, and desensitization techniques to help familiarize the child with the process and reduce anxiety.
  • Seeking Professional Help from Occupational Therapists specializing in SPD can provide valuable strategies, techniques, and support tailored to the individual needs of the child with SPD, ensuring a more positive haircut experience.

Haircuts can be overwhelming for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In this article, we’ll explore the connection between SPD and haircut sensitivities. Understanding how sensory issues can affect children during haircuts is crucial. Additionally, we’ll provide practical tips to help parents and caregivers prepare kids with SPD for a successful haircut experience. Let’s dive into the unique challenges and effective strategies for navigating haircuts with sensitivity in mind.

Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder and Haircut Sensitivities

Individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) may struggle with activities like getting a haircut. Sensitivities to sensory stimuli, such as the sound of scissors or the feeling of clippers, can make it difficult.

For children with SPD, there are tips to make haircuts easier. Find a hairdresser who is understanding and patient. Additionally, give the child visual supports, like pictures or social stories, so they know what to expect.

Occupational therapists are key in helping children with SPD. They provide tailored strategies and interventions for each person’s needs and sensitivities. They work with parents and hairdressers to make the experience comfortable. This way, the child’s needs are met during the haircutting process.

Tips for Preparing Kids with SPD for Haircuts

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can make haircuts hard for children. Here are some tips to help kids with SPD:

  1. Choose the right time and environment. A quieter salon and a less busy time can help reduce sensory overload. Let them take breaks if needed.
  2. Show pictures or videos of haircuts. Visual schedules and social stories can also help.
  3. Use sensory strategies. Get weighted blankets or lap pads for deep pressure. Offer sensory toys or chewable items to distract and self-regulate.
  4. Communication is key. Talk with parents, hairstylists, and OTs. Everyone should know the child’s needs and preferences.
  5. Every child is unique. Work with an OT to find what works best.

One example is a girl with SPD who had difficulty with haircuts. Working together with her family, hairstylist, and OT, they made a plan. It included visuals, comfort items, taking breaks, and keeping communication open. This enabled successful haircuts without distress.

Seeking Professional Help from Occupational Therapists

Needing help from occupational therapists can be helpful for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). These experts specialize in helping people with sensory processing problems. They can give support and advice to children and their families when dealing with haircuts.

  • Unique Solutions: Occupational therapists know how to make plans that are suitable for those with SPD. They can use special methods, like deep pressure or vibration, to get the child used to haircuts. This makes the experience more comfortable.
  • Small Steps: Occupational therapists may do gradual exposure therapy. This means introducing the child to haircuts in a safe place over time. Doing this allows the child to become used to the feeling and reduce anxiety.
  • Knowing What To Do: Occupational therapists can teach children how to cope during haircuts. This could be deep breathing, visualization, or doing something to keep the child relaxed and focused.

Occupational therapists are important even if the child has already had therapy or interventions. They have a unique set of skills that are great for addressing sensory processing issues. They can work with the child and family to create a plan that meets their needs and goals. With their help, kids with SPD can manage haircuts better and improve their sensory processing.


Cutting hair can be a tough task for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). They’re often more sensitive to sure sensations, like touch and sound. But, some tips can help make it easier!

Provide a relaxing atmosphere. Reduce the noise, dim the lights, and give them something familiar to hold. Have the hairdresser explain each step of the process. This lets the child feel in charge and prepared.

Consider which tools and products to use. Ask the child what they prefer. Involve them in picking products so their comfort is guaranteed.

Good communication is also vital. Build a trusting relationship. Talk about any worries or problems that come up. Make sure the child’s needs are met and the haircut experience is positive.

To sum up, creating a calm atmosphere, thinking of sensory sensitivities, and communicating openly can help reduce stress and make haircuts a more manageable experience for kids with SPD. This will help them form good associations with haircuts and boost their self-confidence.

Some Facts About Dealing with Haircuts: Tips for Kids with SPD:

  • ✅ Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and sensory processing issues may struggle with personal hygiene and grooming routines due to sensory overload. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Haircuts are often particularly distressing for children with sensory challenges. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Hairdressers and barbers are working to make haircuts less frightening for children with autism and sensory issues. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Lisa Ann McKenzie, a barber, established a routine and created a calming environment for a young client with autism and hypersensitivity. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ James Williams, a barber in the UK, emphasizes connection and flexibility and is willing to cut hair anywhere to make children with autism more comfortable. (Source: Team Research)

FAQs about Dealing With Haircuts: Tips For Kids With Spd

FAQ 1: How can I help my child with sensory processing disorder overcome their fear of haircuts?

Answer: There are several strategies you can try to help your child with sensory processing disorder overcome their fear of haircuts. One approach is to find smaller, calm and quiet salons that better suit your child’s sensory needs. You can also use social stories or visual schedules to outline the steps of the haircut process and eliminate unpredictability. Modelling behaviour and scheduling haircuts with your child can also help them observe and feel more prepared. Bringing comfort items like a weighted blanket or sensory toy, and using headphones or earplugs with soothing music can reduce sensory stimulation and anxiety during the haircut.

FAQ 2: What are some tips for parents to help their children with sensory processing issues during haircuts?

Answer: Here are some tips for parents to help their children with sensory processing issues during haircuts:
– Visit the salon in advance to familiarize your child with the environment.
– Create a social story or visual schedule to explain the haircut process.
– Consider using a mobile hairdresser or finding a salon that better suits your child’s sensory needs.
– Use safety scissors for practice and quiet clippers to minimize auditory over-responsiveness.
– Provide distractions like videos, games, or music to shift your child’s attention.
– Plan something fun afterwards as a reward for your child’s cooperation during the haircut.

FAQ 3: How can I make haircuts less distressing for my child with autism?

Answer: Making haircuts less distressing for a child with autism may require creating a calming environment and establishing a routine. You can act out the scenario with a doll or stuffed animal, use toy clippers to demonstrate the process and involve your child in choosing a hairstyle. Watching videos or using other resources to help your child become more comfortable with the haircutting process is also beneficial. Using a barber cape to protect their skin from falling hair, and allowing them to examine and become familiar with the tools under your supervision can help reduce anxiety. Using reassuring phrases, taking breaks, and providing distractions can also make the experience more manageable.

FAQ 4: How can a pediatric occupational therapist help my child with sensory processing disorder and haircuts?

Answer: A pediatric occupational therapist can work with your child and family to address specific concerns related to sensory processing and grooming tasks like haircuts. They can provide individualized strategies and techniques to help your child cope with sensory stimulation during haircuts. Occupational therapists can also help develop sensory processing skills, implement visual supports like social stories, and recommend sensory tools or equipment that can aid in the hair-cutting process. Contact a pediatric occupational therapist for more information about their services and how they can help your child.

FAQ 5: What are some suggestions for children with sensory processing disorder to manage sensory responses during haircuts?

Answer: Children with sensory processing disorder can manage their sensory responses during haircuts by using sensory tools and techniques. Some suggestions include:
– Using earplugs or headphones with soft, soothing music to reduce auditory input.
– Bringing comfort items like a weighted blanket or sensory toy to provide a sense of calmness.
– Discuss ways to keep stray hairs off their neck, such as using a fan, towel, brush, or hands.
– Consider using a shampoo visor to prevent hair from falling below the head and reducing wet textures.
– Using safety scissors around sensitive areas like the ears and neck, and utilizing the “count to 10” method to give the child breaks during the process.
– Providing distractions like tablet games, fidget toys, or singing a favourite song to shift their focus away from the haircutting process.

FAQ 6: How can I track my child’s progress and sensitivities during haircuts?

Answer: To track your child’s progress and sensitivities during haircuts, you can keep a journal and take pictures. Note down any specific sensitivities or reactions your child has during the haircut process. This can help you identify patterns and understand what approaches or techniques work best for your child. Additionally, taking pictures of their haircuts can show your child that the experience is not traumatic and help them see their progress over time.

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