sensory processing disorder hair brushing - ugly swan

Hair Brushing for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

Most of us take for granted that we can receive and process information without it causing us any frustration. But everyday life for a child with sensory issues and their parents can be difficult. Parents of children with sensory issues often spend many hours researching and trialling objects that may make their child’s life a little easier. One everyday item that can make a big difference is the humble hair brush.  

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

A person with Sensory Processing Disorder has trouble processing sensory information. Some sounds, sights, smells, textures and tastes can cause a ‘sensory overload’ which makes it hard to regulate emotions. The two types of sensory processing are over sensitivity and under sensitivity. The majority of children have oversensitivity and so avoid sensory input. 

Sensory processing disorder can have a big impact on a child’s learning and everyday living. The daily task of brushing a child’s hair can be a traumatic experience. Often parents don’t realise that using a hard, plastic brush with bristles that don’t flex or contour to the scalp is a painful experience. All children have more sensitive scalps than the average adult and with sensory issues, having their hair brushed can be a daily nightmare.     

Making Hair Brushing a Pleasant Experience

Some children refuse to allow their parents anywhere near them with a hairbrush in hand. Multiple traumatic experiences has left them terrified of a hair brush. They would much prefer to go out with knots than attempt to untangle them. 

However, it is possible for a child with sensory processing issues to completely turn around their feelings towards hair brushing. On many occasions, we’ve witnessed kids who are terrified of having their hair brushed who within minutes love the experience. 

We’ve shown them how soft the natural boar bristles are on their skin and the way the hand dipped pins flex as they move through the hair. Within a few strokes of the brush, the kids are smiling. They’re rapt that the new brush doesn’t tug or pull their hair or scratch their scalp. Having their hair brushed or doing it themselves becomes a relaxing, calming daily task that’s no longer a dreaded chore. 

Natural bristle brushes reduce the build-up of oil on the scalp because the oil is brushed through conditioning the hair shaft right to the tip. The distribution of natural oils reduces the frequency of hair washing which can also be difficult for children with sensory issues.    

Claiming the Cost of your Child’s Hairbrush   

Some children with sensory processing disorder are registered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Parents may be able to claim back the cost of a natural bristle Scream-Free™ Detangling Brush Set for Sensory Hair that will allow their child to brush their hair without the trauma and pain that comes with store-bought plastic brushes. Speak to your case manager to find out if you’re eligible.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.