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Hair pulling/ twirling/ scratching (DD has ASD)

(8 Posts)

Just hoping for a little advice/ any ideas really. DD, almost 3, constantly won't leave my hair alone. Think it is a comfort/ sensory issue...she is not aggressive. She also pokes my eyes too. I have tried taking her hand away, tried saying "no poking eyes!" (she now, endearingly will say this before she does it). But it is painful and damaging my hair. Any ideas before a trip to Sinead O' Connor's hairstylist?

smilesintherain Wed 21-Nov-12 11:20:38

I have the same problem but with a younger child (15 mo). It is worst at night when he will only be comforted by pulling, well more ripping out my hair. OT think it is sensory & that he needs to pull at something that is fixed to something, as well as looking for comfort.

We have seen some improvement, although the method was a bit odd! I basically bought a huge soft muslin (a baby swaddling one). I then wore it as a headscarf whenever we were at home. He was not impressed & made it his mission to pull it off but we kept going. Then once he was more used to it I gave him the muslin to sleep with, tied to the cot so it gives some resistance. I wouldn't say it has solved the issue but at least he now accepts my oh at night (thank god!) obviously ds is younger & not talking so it made this method easier (if he could talk he would have had PLENTY to say about this! smile)

coff33pot Wed 21-Nov-12 12:39:32

How about buying her one of the hairdresser heads? as far as I remember they have suckers on the bottom. Give her that to use for sensory and if she pulls your hair walk away and say no pulling and ignore her. Keep redirecting her to the toy initially.

Othe sensory pulling I have used are the stretch Armstrong type if toys. It uses energy at the same time as the tugging and ds and I pull a scoot do one between us quite often smile

coff33pot Wed 21-Nov-12 12:40:17

Scooby doo one even!

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Wed 21-Nov-12 16:57:34

Oh, my DS2 does this. He started playing with my long hair as a small baby during breast feeding and it became more painful as he grew. He twirled it and tied it in knots and stroked his face with it. My solution was to cut it really short and kept some 'voodoo-like' locks for him to take to bed. It partially worked, but he would lose the tatty dreadlocked hair in the night and wake up crying, and he would still twist my short hair, very painful. He then took to twiddling his own hair leading to bald patches. So I cut his very short. I think substituting your hair for something easily replaceable and socially appropriate may work. Maybe a soft toy with silky hair?

BTW, DS2 is 13 and still plays with my hair when he's sitting next to me. Slightly odd looking and a bit embarrassing but it's the closest I get to a cuddle. smile

Thanks to you all. Sorry to not get back sooner - DD also not a great sleeper hmm.

Some good ideas here. I had better start doing something as I have a load of shorter hairs at the front of my head (regrowth?) from where they are getting pulled out. She is mostly doing it at night when she's trying to get to sleep - and gets annoyed and tries to shove her feet in my face instead!

I might try to find something else for her to twiddle with!

My ds, with hfa, did this, to the point where I would avoid sitting down, because he would want to sit on my knee to play with my hair - I really didn't like it, he did eventually grow out of it... not sure if it was my constantly getting up that stopped him. Maybe he started carrying his favourite toy with him and that replaced my hair (he still carries the toy with him, but he can leave it at home, when distracted) or maybe it was because he started using the computer then, whilst sitting on my knee - poisson rouge was popular with him, interactive but simple, he had to use his hands.

I also tickled him to distract him, he would withdraw his hands then, but it was non-confrontational.

I think he didn't see me as separate from him then.

Some great ideas, thanks!

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