Tips for Haircutting a Child With Autism or SPD

We present a collection of helpful tips and strategies that you can practice before, during, and after haircuts.

If you would like to contribute a tip, we (and other parents) would appreciate your insight - send us an email with your tip to

Tips for a Great Haircut infographic

In Preparation

Every child and every haircut is different! Think of haircuts as a chance to learn what your child is sensitive to. We recommend that you keep a journal of your findings, and take pictures so that you can show your child’s accomplishments to them when they need it in the future.

Scheduling is important. Consider what time of day your child tends to be the least overwhelmed. It's a good idea to try haircutting at multiple times to help you determine which time is easiest. Avoid trying to give your child a haircut immediately after school, or after other activities or during unfortunate times when your child is under the weather or tired.

If your child needs routine, it’s best to set up when haircuts will be happening. Haircuts can be traumatic for some kids, so it’s best to put haircuts on the calendar at regular intervals: every month, every other month, or however long you wait in between trims.

It's important that your child understands what this haircut is all about before it begins. Try acting out the scenario with a doll or a stuffed animal, starting with sitting in a chair and wearing the barber cape. Use toy clippers to show them the next steps during a haircut, and encourage them to participate and see if they want to pick their style. It’s beneficial to begin this preparation a few days prior so that your child feels informed when it’s time.

One parent told us her son was initially very scared of Calming Clipper. However, after watching the following video repeatedly while out running errands, he felt much more comfortable, and couldn't stop asking for a haircut. (True story!)

Getting Started

Put on the barber cape that’s included. When Calming Clipper first debuted, we had many parents tell us that their kids were very sensitive to the feeling of hair falling on their skin, and so we began including a barber cape.

Your child should be comfortable with the Calming Clipper and other tools you’ll be using. If they’re interested, offer to let them examine the combs, the cape, and Calming Clipper under your supervision. Be careful – Calming Clipper has a sharp blade!

Calming Clipper is the easiest way to give a sensory haircut.

Keep focused on the haircut. Your child may feel like they’re in danger so it’s tremendously important that you keep things under control.

Most boys’ hairstyles are short on the sides and longer on top. This is a simple, straightforward cut that we recommend if it’s your first time using Calming Clipper. Here’s a starter plan:

  • Start with a shorter comb and trim the back. Use rapid cuts to blend the hair.
  • Trim the sides.
  • Attach a longer comb and trim the top. To achieve a longer cut, you can lift the Calming Clipper off of the scalp.

Use a safety scissor around sensitive areas like around the ears and neck. Since these areas can be tough for kids, we recommend using the “count to 10” method. When you start cutting, start counting from 1 to 10, and then take a break. This way, your child will know that it will all be over by 10. (Thank you to Kat K. for this tip.)

If you need your child to follow a direction, for instance, “keep your head down”, you may find that it helps to repeat this direction in reassuring way. “Thank you” or “good job at keeping your head down!” Use phrases like “almost there” or “just this last bit” so that your child knows that the misery will be over at some point.

Speaking of breaks, take plenty of them. It may take the all day to get a complete haircut. You may even want to split it up over an entire weekend. Be patient, and accept the fact that it will take a while.

Remember to take notes on the specific things you child does and doesn’t like.

Avoiding Stimuli

So far, the haircut’s going fine. Calming Clipper is quiet, but there’s no way to mute the sound of hair being cut. For some children, it’s an unpleasant sound that they can’t shake off. Here are some ideas for how to shift their attention away from the haircutting process:

  • Video / phone / tablet games
  • Put on their favorite movie or album
  • Sing a song
  • If necessary, use earplugs

Talk to your child about what you can use to keep stray hairs off the neck. This could be a fan, towel, brush, or your hands.

Some kids don’t even want to see the hair. Some parents have told us a shampoo visor works well to keep hair from falling below the head. We have experimented with bundling this with Calming Clipper. Please email us at if you are interested in this bundle!

Final Tips

Reward your child with something they like. You know they deserve it.

When you’re finished, take a picture, and try to get a smile if you can. When the next haircut rolls around, a photo can be proof that a haircut isn’t the end of the world!

You’ll do great. Good luck!