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Brush it off

I need your help.

Imagine you have a special needs child.

She has autism.

She has some pretty severe sensory aversion.

She has some fears.

She has super, crazy, thick, wavy hair.

She is going through a “water near the head equals screaming unless I’m in a pool” phase.

She also has severe dandruff.

And her hair is black.

Faith has been in a bit of a challenging phase lately. She does NOT want her hair washed. By that I mean that the sight of the shampoo can result in screaming, thrashing and throwing. I have tried almost every trick I know of. We have washed Daisy together, we have washed her stuffies, I have brought her in the shower with me. We have tried using the sink. We have read social stories. We have watched cartoons. We have watched Elmo’s world. We tried “dry” shampoo.

I KNOW eventually we will move out of this, but I need some advice for the here and now.

Her hair is a mess.

The dandruff is awful.

How awful?


I brush her hair several times a day hoping to help loosen it and help it fall out. We have had a nylon bristle brush, but she said it was too scratchy and hurt. It also didn’t seem able to penetrate the thickness of her hair. She is ok with my using a plastic ball tipped vent brush, but it does not seen to help bring the flakes out of the hair.

Has anyone ever used a boars hair bristle brush. Are the bristles softer than the nylon bristles? They are kind of expensive but if they can get through the hair and help get the flakes out, I’m willing to buy one.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Mary April 14, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Okay, she wasn’t a special needs child, but my Grandmother went through a period during her dementia where she wouldn’t put her feet in water or allow her head to be wet. We conquered the foot thing by turning the tub chair so her feet weren’t in the tub but we never did manage around the head wetting thing. She had horrible flaking also. We purchased a wonderful thing called “scalpicin” to get rid of the flaking. A drop or two on the flaking areas (not the areas where there are flakes, but the actual areas of the scalp where flaking is occurring) and they would stop flaking for up to two weeks. I don’t know what is in it….

    As for the hair washing, have you tried Wen? her hair does have to get wet but it doesn’t foam at all – it is a cleansing conditioner and it will lengthen the time between cleaning – my one friend only cleans her hair twice a month.

    And yes, a boar bristle brush should get through her hair and get the flakes out, some of the fine combs can as well…..

  • Kiesha Bell April 16, 2012, 7:56 pm

    Poor thing!! Both you and her, I mean. 🙂 This may seem like an extreme solution, but, since she will swim in a pool (and gets her hair wet), how about enrolling her in the YMCA for some swim lessons…or just joining the YMCA and swimming for fun? If she swims a few times a week, I think this problem would go away. Our oldest son swims 3-4 times per week, and his hair is always squeaky clean (thank goodness, because he still doesn’t know how to wash it well!).

    Our ASD child has super thick hair, too, and HATES getting his hair washed. However, he’s a boy… if all else fails, he gets his head shaved. 😉

  • Shanon Renee April 17, 2012, 10:31 am

    Livestrong has a couple of suggestions I don’t know if they would work with Faith but you might want to check them out.

  • Kaelin April 18, 2012, 9:32 am

    We use a boar bristle brush and it’s the only brush that picky Kamy will let me use on her hair. We have EXTREMELY thick hair and it gets through it just fine. Not scratchy at all. I have also used scalpicin but it does have quite a bit of chemicals as most like products do. I’m sure I haven’t helped much.. I really hope you find something that works.

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