mom brushing daughters hair

Children with autism have trouble with many sensory items. Therefore, brushing hair can be a challenge for these kids. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of autism and hair brushing to better understand children with autism and prepare a quality experience for them.

Why Is Brushing Hair A Challenge for A Child with Autism?

Children with autism typically suffer from a challenge known as sensory processing disorder. This trouble makes brushing the hair a particular challenge. The way the brush feels and sounds in the hair may cause frustration and trigger a child with autism.


It might seem like an overreaction to outsiders but brushing the hair on a child with autism can feel like the end of the world. It’s critical to consider sensory processing disorders before brushing to determine how the activity might feel to them.

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory processing disorder is common in children with autism. It’s a condition that affects how the brain takes in and processes sensory information. Most of the time, the sense can be too extreme for individuals with autism.


Sensory information includes items that you can:


  • See, such as a bright light or a car on the road
  • Hear, such as a fire alarm or a bird in the sky
  • Smell, such as burning toast or a rotten egg
  • Taste, such as a spicy chip or a sweet ice cream treat
  • Touch, such as a hot stove or a soft kitten


They come into the brain differently with a sensory processing disorder.


Stimuli include items like bright lights or a loud noise. Something normal to a child without autism may sound far more intense to a child with autism. Hair brushing involves the seeing, hearing, and touching senses.

Tips For Brushing a Child with Autism’s Hair

If you have a child with autism, you need to brush their hair. Of course, this process is easier said than done. We have a few tips to keep in mind to better the brushing experience for you and your child with autism.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind for the process. Consider the following for an ideal experience:


  •     Determine the cause: Attempt to determine the root of the discomfort with the brushing. Is it the sound? The feel?
  •     Acknowledge the discomfort: Note that you understand their hurt and empathize with them. Ensure your child does not feel isolated in their pain.
  •     Avoid the most challenging parts: Keep clear of items that can cause difficulties. For example, if they don’t like traditional shampoo, try dry shampoo instead.
  •     Give your child control: For the most comfortable experience, allow your kid to have control of the situation. If they want to brush their hair, let them complete the task themself.
  •     Choose a low-maintenance hairstyle: Select a hairstyle that will take the least time to complete. They shouldn’t be expected to sit or handle touching for a long time if it’s uncomfortable.
  •     Not expect the child to sit still: Due to the discomfort of the situation, you can’t expect the child to remain still while you brush. Give them grace as you work on their hair.
  •     Use fidget toys: Fidget toys allow children with autism to take their mind off the brushing experience and calm themselves with a sensory device. This item can be anything from homemade slime to a plastic fidget spinner.


These can help get the job done and better the experience for a child with autism.


The experience may still be tricky with these tips, but they should make it better. The most critical items are communication and empathy. Ensure your child does not feel alone or silly if they feel uncomfortable with the brushing process – they are not alone.

Brushes For Children with Autism

Several brushes on the market work well for children with autism. They minimize the stimuli that come from contact with the head, ideal for a child with a sensory processing disorder.


Here are a few of our favorite choices and links for each brush:


  •   Tangle Teezer: This item goes for $10 on Amazon and boasts an easy-to-hold shape.
  •   Wet Brush Pro Detangle: This item goes for $10 on Amazon and has flexible, soft bristles.
  •   Knot Genie: This item goes for $13 on their site and offers a smooth way to handle knots.


These will get the job done and make it enjoyable.


Another item that can help with hair brushing is hair detanglers. Let’s go over a few of our favorite choices for children with autism next.

Hair Detanglers For Children with Autism

Hair detanglers work out knots and reduce the risk of a brush getting caught in their hair. The best product prevents pain from affecting the child as you brush their hair. There are several excellent choices on the market.


Here are our favorite picks for hair detanglers for children with autism:



These should clear out knots in no time.


With a quality brush and detangler, you will have a better time brushing your child’s hair. They won’t experience harmful stimuli or pain, and you can feel confident that they are as comfortable as possible. There are so many tools in our world to make the world a better place for children with autism.

Final Thoughts

Children with autism experience the world differently. Many have sensory processing disorders, which can make brushing hair uncomfortable. If you brush your child’s hair, ensure you empathize with them and work to make the moment as comfortable as possible. Communication is critical, as is the right hairbrush.


We hope this information was helpful! With proper brush and tips, you can brush your child’s hair. With time, they may grow to enjoy the time spent with you.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.





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