If you have a child with special needs or sensory difficulties, hair cuts can be an absolute nightmare. These strategies can help get kids ready for a haircut. 


Removing the Fear of Sight and Sound of the Clippers/Scissors

  • Slowly introduce the clippers/scissors placing them across the room and moving them closer as tolerated
  • Once tolerated nearby, slowly introduce the sound by turning the clippers on across the room and moving closer as tolerated
  • Present preferred activity for distraction during the introduction of the clippers;scissors
  • Utilize vibrating massager to desensitize sound of clippers

Removing the Fear of the Touch with the clippers or hair

  • Use of vibrating massager progressing from tolerating touch on arms and legs and progressing to tolerating touch on various locations of the head and neck
  • Use of feathers and other items similar in texture to hair to play a game encouraging tolerating touch to different parts of the body including head, neck, arms, back, and ears
  • Deep pressure/massage to the scalp
  • Encourage messy play to help remove the fear of hair touching them 

Use of Tools to reduce noise

  • Use headphones or earplugs
  • Turn on preferred music 

Additional Strategies 

  • Use scissors if clippers still cannot be tolerated
  • Wet hair instead of cutting dry hair
  • Use something to prevent hair from touching skin
  • Use calming strategies during haircut 
  • Weighted blanket/compression clothing
  • Allow the child to play with a fidget or do a preferred activity
  • Read a social story about haircuts prior 
  • Watch a video about haircuts 
  • Use rewards 
  • Step by Step picture schedule 
  • Timer 
  • Use a slow, fun, and non-pressured progression of the steps 
  • Establish pleasant memories of hair cutting and replace unpleasant memories 
  • Increase the frequency of task to keep pleasant thoughts in recent memories
Does your child have Sensory Difficulties?