Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Washing a Kid's Hair Who Has Tactile Sensitivity

My two young kids absolutely love bath time. When they hear Daddy start the water, they dash upstairs to crawl in. They have fun during bath time for many reasons: playing with one another, splashing, playing with bath toys, singing & laughing. My 15 month old son could care less if the water is poured over his head in order to rinse out the shampoo. My daughter on the other hand, acts as if she is dying if any water touches her face. I have her wear a cloth over her eyes and tilt her head back to minimize the damage. If I am washing her hair, all goes well because I am careful to not get any water on her face. When Dad rinses the shampoo, she puts up more of a fight because he typically gets water in her eyes. My child doesn't have sensory processing disorder (SPD) or an extreme tactile sensitivity that I know of, but she is still sensitive to getting water on her face. Once she is upset about the water in her face while bathing, she is over it within 10 seconds after it has stopped. But unfortunately for a lot of the families I work with, once their toddler or young child with SPD or tactile sensitivity becomes upset, it is meltdown city, and then the child is so upset that he can't fall asleep for well over an hour.

While applying shampoo to the child's (with SPD or tactile sensitivity) head, it is a good idea for the adult to put the shampoo in their own palm before applying it to the child's head. The trickle of shampoo over the child's head may be aversive whereas the deeper touch of a palm full of shampoo isn't as aversive, usually. When rubbing in the shampoo, use firm massage strokes. If using organic shampoo without lauryl sulfate, the shampoo may not create suds, therefore suds can't fall into the child's eyes. To minimize water in the face while rinsing shampoo from the sensitive child's hair, try the following tips:

  • Have them tilt their head backwards as you rinse the shampoo out

  • Have them put a dry washcloth over their eyes as if it is a blindfold. It can catch any stray sprinkles of water

  • Use a sun visor to catch any water that would fall down the child's face

  • Use a Lil' Rinser (R). They have a website; I purchased one at Target (R). I have only used it a few times, and if put on properly, it helped minimize water in the eyes even if the head isn't tilted back

  • Only wash a young kid's hair up to 2 times per week unless they are extra dirty. Since they do not produce as much oil (pre-puberty) as an adult does, they don't need their hair washed as often.

  • Get tear-free shampoo and/or shampoo with natural/organic ingredients; this way the shampoo won't be as harmful

  • Wash the kid's hair earlier in the day or before supper, not at bedtime. This way if he is upset about it, it won't delay his ability to fall asleep. Many kids with SPD have a hard time winding down to fall asleep on any evening much less on an evening when they became upset

  • Consider showers. The deep pressure of water coming from a shower head may be less aversive than water trickling from the faucet or a cup used to rinse out shampoo

  • If you are concerned that the your young child may have sensory processing disorder but you are not sure, go to http://www.spdfoundation.net/ for information on kids and http://www.sense-ablebaby.com/ for information on babies.

1 comment:

  1. Another really good tool for young children and kids with sensory processing disorders is a DVD that they watch just before they have their hair washed. It is about 8 minutes long, and goes over what you will use - shampoo etc, what the sounds are like,has a nice little song, then there are some kids having fun getting their hair washed. We tried it with our boys and it made a huge difference. We were given it but the website is www.icanforkids.com