It can be challenging for children with difficulties in sensory processing to tolerate routine daily jobs, like haircuts. Not because they are afraid of coming from this appointment with poor bangs or an irregular trim, but because of the sensory response it triggers.
You can get more information at the Chicago Occupational Therapy blog article about the different sensory areas and processing skills.
These sensory problems could be brought on by tactile hypersensitivity, auditory over-responsiveness, and more. Below is further information about neural responses and strategies developed by experts that can be employed to help kids during haircuts.
Some Reasons Why Children Struggle with Haircuts
If kids have autism spectrum disorder or neurological issues, they might be highly sensitive to sensory input signals: sounds, visual, touches, smells, textures, and tastes.
If a young child is susceptible to touch, then there are already many elements of a haircut that they will find exceptionally upsetting, from pieces of the freshly cut hair affixed to the back of their neck, for their hairstylists touching their head or neck throughout the trimming.
If a kid is extremely sensitive to light, they may find that the bright light in many salons is not only uncomfortable but overpowering. Additionally, there are many different sounds at a salon, including hairdryers, loud conversation, running water, and the buzz of hair trimmers.
Especially if you visit a salon that’s typically bustling with a different activity, it can be difficult to shield your child from your unpleasant sensory input. But, there are lots of ways in which you could make the experience less traumatic.
1) Research on your Salon
If you observe that your child is becoming overstimulated at some bigger salons, perhaps there are smaller hair salons nearby that your kid would feel comfortable there. There may be a facility that is relatively quiet and calm, which will better suit the sensory needs of your kid. When you talk with the salon, it might be helpful to learn times when they’re typically less active, so it is possible to schedule accordingly.
2) Visual Schedule or utilize Social Stories
Many kids on the spectrum benefit from visual schedules and social stories, haircuts are not any different. It may be calming for your child to observe every one of the steps of this haircut process laid into a social story or visual schedule before going to the salon for a haircut, to remove a number of the unpredictability of the activity. You may buy some templates for the visual programs and societal stories at some Therapy Material sites.
3) Explain the Steps
The hour or day before your hair appointment, you can put aside time to have a pretend hair trimmed. In this period, you can simulate the appointment and clarify (step-by-step) what will occur in the appointment. To make this more of enjoyable even for your kid, you might have your kid practice providing you a haircut. This might help lessen their worry, making it an enjoyable event!
4) Schedule your haircuts too
It might also help to schedule your hair appointment on exactly the same day. It would be best if you went first. Along with your kid can see you calmly like the experience, they may be more ready for their very own haircut.
5) Bring a sensory toy, earplugs, etc.
The comfort of a weighted blanket might be helpful for a sensitive child during a haircut. A toy may also help to distract them. Furthermore, playing Soft, soothing songs via earphones or sporting noise-canceling earplugs or headphones could reduce auditory input.