Navigating Haircuts with Sensory Sensitivities: Tips for Children with Autism

For many parents, a simple trip to the hair salon with their child is a routine task. But for families with children on the autism spectrum, getting a haircut can be a daunting and anxiety-inducing experience. The sensory sensitivities experienced by these children, coupled with the unfamiliar salon environment, can transform this seemingly mundane task into a significant challenge. In this blog post, we will delve into suggestions and strategies to help children with autism enjoy a more comfortable and successful haircut experience.

Understanding Sensory Sensitivities:

Children with autism often grapple with heightened sensory sensitivities, rendering certain sensations, sounds, or surroundings overwhelming. A visit to the hair salon can trigger these sensitivities, resulting in anxiety and meltdowns. Common sensory challenges include:
  1. Sensory Overload: The cacophony of hairdryers, buzzing clippers, and unfamiliar odors can prove overwhelming.
  2. Tactile Sensitivities: The sensation of hair being touched or the touch of a stranger can be discomforting.
  3. Visual Overstimulation: The presence of bright lights and mirrors in salons can be disorienting.

Tips for a Successful Haircut Experience:

Preparation is Key:
  • Familiarize your child with the salon environment by visiting beforehand during quieter times.
  • Introduce your child to the hairstylist or barber in advance.
Visual Supports:
  • Utilize social stories or visual schedules to elucidate the haircut process step by step.
  • Display images or videos of children undergoing haircuts to normalize the experience.
Sensory-Friendly Tools:
  • Provide sensory items like fidget toys or noise-canceling headphones to assist your child in coping with sensory stimuli.
Timing Matters:
  • Opt for a less crowded and quieter salon time to minimize sensory overload.
Comfortable Clothing:
  • Dress your child in comfortable attire to diminish tactile sensitivities.
Gradual Approach:
  • Initiate with short, uncomplicated haircuts and incrementally progress to longer styles as your child becomes more comfortable.
  • Practice at-home haircuts using clippers or scissors with their blades covered (turned off) to acclimatize your child to the sensation.
Positive Reinforcement:
  • Offer praise and rewards to acknowledge your child’s cooperation during and after the haircut.
Choose a Supportive Stylist:
  • Seek out a hairstylist or barber experienced in working with children who have sensory sensitivities.
Patience and Empathy:
  • Maintain a composed and empathetic demeanor during the haircut, providing comfort and understanding.
After the Haircut:
  • Celebrate Small Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s accomplishments during the haircut, irrespective of their scale.
  • Consistency: Uphold a consistent haircut schedule to help your child grow more accustomed to the process.
  • Solicit Feedback: After each haircut, inquire about your child’s preferences to facilitate smoother future visits.


Obtaining a haircut can pose a formidable challenge for children with autism due to their sensory sensitivities. Nevertheless, with thorough preparation, patience, and the implementation of suitable strategies, it is entirely possible to render the process less daunting and anxiety-inducing. It is essential to remember that each child is unique, so tailoring your approach to meet their specific needs and preferences is paramount. Thank you for taking the time to peruse our blog post! We trust that these recommendations and strategies will aid you and your child in experiencing a more successful and comfortable haircut. If you have any inquiries or wish to share your own insights, please do not hesitate to get in touch.