Hairbrush 1-2-3

Lady Bug is a sensory seeker. To such an extreme that she did things the occupational therapist assessing her had never seen any other child do, like chew with gusto a block covered in sandpaper. There are many extreme seeking behaviors that show her form of SPD (sensory processing disorder) is in the everything-feels-muted range. Which is why I was shocked when she started getting super sensitive to touches on her scalp and hair.

I don’t remember when this started, but it’s been a while now. Her hair is often a knotted mess because I can’t fix it without causing her a great amount of distress and pain and overwhelm. And that is not worth inflicting on her to make a habit of horrible experience. Sometimes I cut the worst parts out in chunks. Some rare times she’ll let me touch her hair for more than a few seconds and I can work on some of the not so bad areas. When we leave the house I use cute clips with big bows or headbands with flowers to distract from the worst spots near the crown of her head.

I have tried all the special hair brushes. Wet Brush was supposed to be The Brush to end all brush hunting. I’m glad that it works for so many kids. It does not work for Lady Bug. No, not on dry hair, not on wet hair, and not even with my friends’ magic detangler solution (water, conditioner, and argan oil). I’ve even resorted to using a new soft toothbrush on her hair because it was the only think I could touch to her scalp that didn’t make her cry. In desperation (can’t have the world thinking I’m a terrible mother who needs CPS called on her because her child’s hair is a mess) I asked the autistic community. I asked those autistic adults specifically with sensitivities what brush they liked. They pointed me towards the Tangle Teezer. I don’t know why this one and not others work, but this brush has made Lady Bug react the least. There is something else I started doing when I got it that may also be helping. I call it “Hair brush 1-2-3.” I tell Lady Bug, “Okay, I’m going to brush your hair: 1, 2, 3” and brush a stroke with each number. And then I stop. I only brush it 3 times total. At first I did it only once a day. After she got used to it and trusts that after 3 it will stop, I sometimes (when I remember) will do it a few times, spread apart by several hours. It’s not perfect, and it still needs a lot of work, but slowly and surely we are getting there.

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