I’m a momma of a child with sensory differences and that mean grooming is HARD! As challenging as it is for me I am lucky enough to be a licensed stylist and I hear from clients daily about their children’s grooming struggles. It occurs to be that most sensory struggles some of our kiddos have revolve around grooming, hygiene and clothing. Because these care activities are not only stimulating to the sensory system but also put pressure on how comfortable your child is socially. Having another person in their space it often turns into a battle.
Here are some tips for making this experience easier at home and how to navigate the salon/Barbershop
One of the most important things is the actual products you use. Using a very gentle cleansing shampoo is a great way to go and definitely a great conditioner. It has taken my daughter and I a while to get there but we are able to wash her hair at bath time with very little struggle.
Tips for the tub
* avoid having them tip their head too far back. This can upset their vestibular system and cause them to feel ungrounded and dizzy.
* allow them to have choices. Would they like to lay down in the bath water to have their hair washed or sit up and have water poured over with a cup?
* allow them to choose to have a soft old t-shirt or wash cloth across their face to ensure no water gets in their eyes.
*allow them to choose to wear ear plugs jn the bath/shower.
*when conditioner is in the hair softly pull apart any tangles with your fingers starting towards the ends of the hair
*when you are out of the bath do not immediately start cleaning ears and brushing hair. Apply detangler and allow ot to sit in the hair while they (and you decompress from the bath)
* use a soft silicon brush like a wetBrush to brush hair. Start at the bottom and grasp the hair with your opposite hand above the section tou are brushing so that the tension of the brush is being diffused by the pressure of your hand.
*avoid products with coconut oil, mineral oil, glycerin and sodiumlaurylsulfate. As well as strong fragrances.
When it comes to nails we try to do this after we have had a lot of heavy work and activity so that we are prepared for the sensory stimulation. I also try to incorporate things that she likes for example the smell of a certain lotion, her favorite movie and a good bribe.
The salon has SO MANY SENSORY TRIGGERS!
*Call ahead and let the salon know that your child needs special accommodations. *Allow extra time before the appointment for your child to adjust to the sights, sounds, smells ect. of the salon.
*Maybe visit the salon or Barber shop just to stop in and say hello or grab a piece of candy ti help your child build a positive
Relationship with the experience:
* BE OKAY with NOT actually getting a haircut that day. I’ve seen so many parents push haircuts on children who are clearly not in the right state to process the environment around them. Having a stylist who is onboard with your child sitting in the chair, feeling the cape and towels and allowing your child to (supervised) hold and feel the vibration of the clippers and not actually getting a haircut is huge!
* for little ones introducing the Clipper as a “tickle bug” and allowing them to feel the vibration of the motor on their knee, then belly, then underarm and moving up till the “tickle bug” reaches the top of their head helps with the fear of clippers as well
* Be open to asking for nontraditional cutting stances. Sometimes kiddos do better standing, being outdoors or even being on the floor during a hair service.
*Bring extra clothing! Having a fresh, not so itchy shirt available can make a difference. I personally have a couple little clients who can’t stand wearing capes. We cut their hair fast and then allow them to take a nice damp warm towel and clean up and change their clothes in the restroom.
*If smells are an issue request that they not use products
*Bring distractions and rewards!
Check out some of these upcoming sensory friendly events and summer trips!
Saturday June 25th 11:00am
200 E. Edgewood Blvd
Sensory friendly Mondays at Lily Pad Springs
6200 Farmington Rd.
West Bloomfield TWP
Potter Park Zoo Falconers
Friday June 5:30pm-8:30pm
1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave