I remember vividly how uncomfortable it was taking my son to the barber shop in his first 3 years. In fact, I am really surprised when today, at 6 years old, I see him walk comfortably to Karanja’s barber shop, sit on the chair and have his hair done.
Leave alone shaving, brushing was a tall order in itself. The boy hated hair brushing with a passion. And though most children hate it due to the uncomfortable hair syndrome, I felt that he had a sensory processing disorder.
In those 3 formative years of his life, the boy would wail, turn and toss in the barber’s chair. His mother would be so torn seeing such torment on her only son. As the man of the house, I would try to be brave and hold him to the barber to shave him. But it really did have an effect on me too.
At one point, the barber, Mr. Karanja told me that he need not be escorted by his mother when visiting the barber’s shop but rather me since I could hold him to a shave.
Today, things have changed a lot. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because he has gotten used to the machine roaring on his head and cutting out his hair. Or maybe his skin has hardened and so he can put up with the shaving. Not really sure what happened.
Well, he still cringes a little but I attribute this to a sense of ticklishness that anyone would feel, right?
And so, when I hear parents of autistic children and those with sensory processing disorders say that they are looking for other alternatives to brushing their kids’ hair, shaving or visiting the salon, I understand them so well.
As opposed to most of us who are able to brave a visit at the barber or salon without cringing with a feeling of ticklishness, people with sensory processing disorders are really uncomfortable when their hair is touched. And it is not like their hair is entangled like kids with uncombable hair. No, it is just that they feel very sensitive.
So how should you go about brushing hair in a child with sensory processing disorder?
- Acknowledge the discomfort
At first, I thought the boy was just throwing a tantrum but hey, I googled and saw that other parents had kids with the same problem. So, what do I do? I acknowledged the discomfort and pain in this and so this opened my eyes to other solutions that could be employed.
- Firstly, you need to soften their hair using hot water or detanglers
In case their hair is entangled, be kind enough to first detangle it so that the child is a bit relieved when you brush, plait or shave them.
Amazon has the best detanglers for kids and I feel that you need to consider purchasing them.
- Use simple styles
At the salon, don’t go for complicated hairstyles that would have them cringe for a long time. Go for the simplest that is easy to do.
- Use fidget toys
As you brush up your kid’s hair, shave or plait them, you could give them some fidget toys to keep them busy during the process.
- Use a fancy kids barber or salon shop
There are probably lots of kids barber shops out there in your neighborhood that you need to consider visiting. Here, the kid is taken care of by someone who understands the discomfort, has lots of fidget gadgets for the kid while at the same time being gentle to them.