Hair Pulling — Scope | Disability forum

Hair Pulling

JimJams Member Posts: 174 Connected
edited June 2014 in Autism and neurodiversity
Does anyone know why my autistic son might be pulling out his hair, I have cut it really short but he still gets hold of it, I am worried he may be anxious about something.


  • BusyOT
    BusyOT Member Posts: 76
    Lots of reasons why he might be doing it. If it's a new behaviour have you thought about pain elsewhere in his body? I have known some clients who have started to pull hair and it turns out that they have toothache or an ear infection.
    Once the health issues are ruled out we would often do a full behavioural analysis (looking at times he does it , ABC's etc) and then a sensory assessment. Trying to find the function can help when trying to replace the behaviour - I usually try to recommend alternatives rather than just trying to stop the person. Some of the alternatives include - fiddle toys like a Koosh ball, brushing own hair with soft brush, ripping velcro apart, an increase in physical activity etc
    As his mum though I think you probably know best and therefore if you think he might be anxious it would be best to try and work out why and how you can relieve this for him (although I appreciate this may be easier said than done!). Have you heard of smell "pictures"? (Use a particular smell on a cotton pad in a relaxing situation repetitively and then offer the same smell in an anxious situation - the theory is that because the smell system is linked to the emotion systems it can help to lower arousal levels).
  • JimJams
    JimJams Member Posts: 174 Connected
    he just seems to be drawn to the same patch of hair all the time, I think I will try your ideas of velcro and smell pictures. I can do this straight away tonight. Thanks for all the advice I will let you know how it goes.
  • Michellesmam
    Michellesmam Member Posts: 1
    For the past year my 6 year old has been hair pulling hair at every opportunity and as a result has no friends. Does anyone know how to stop this. She is severely mentally retarded with no means of commununication and I know it is through frustration.