Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bittersweet and Twisted

Twist, twist, twist...

"Hands down, honey."

...twist, twist, twist...

"Baby, please put your hand down..."

...twist, twist, twist...

"Samantha!  Stop twisting your hair..."

And so it goes, on and on and on. 

It's a fairly recent phenomenon, within the last few months.  She began to pull at the fine hairs, the straggly bits framing her face that had come loose from her braid.  Not pulling hard, but absently tugging, breaking bits off and ensuring that it didn't continue to grow to its full length.  In recent days (or has it been weeks?) she's been twisting it, her hands fluttering up, rubbing it into a ball, stopping only when re-directed with a distraction, or the shake of a parental head. 

Yesterday it hit its worst point, a point of no return, a point that now requires scissors to remove the tangled, matted dreadlock that resulted from her incessant mauling.  She knows she shouldn't do it, and even says as much, but she can't help herself.  This morning I bolted her hair down with a row of hair clips, and gave her teachers instruction to re-direct if they see her doing it.

Sensory?  I'm sure it is.  But why now?  Why this?  We'll mention it to her OT this week and see what he says, but in the meantime, do/did any of your children ever do this?  What did you do about it?  How are they doing now?  How long did it last?

13 comments:

Team Lando said...

OK, so Ellie doesn't exactly play with her hair, but now that I am reading your post, I've noticed the same types of behavior in kids with some minor sensory stuff. I have absolutely NO idea, but could it be just that she wants to keep her hands busy? Maybe see if there's something like a necklace she could wear and play with instead of playing with her hair?

teal915 said...

It's one of those things like teeth grinding or nail biting. I hope it doesn't last, especially with her beautiful hair.

The Annessa Family said...

Be careful with the necklace - we got Brad the string around his neck for his glasses to play with and he almost choked himself!

Brooke
www.TheAnnessaFamily.com

Becca said...

Thanks for the warning, Brooke! Sammi doesn't really like to wear jewelry anyway, but something along those lines may work (the non-choking kind, LOL).

Oh, and have I mentioned before that she grinds her teeth, too? Mainly when she's concentrating or sleepy, but never *in* her sleep. Drives. Me. Craaaaazy.

Anna said...

I wonder if it could be a bracelet strung on that elastic stuff? No choking hazard that way. Ours is/was similar yet different, the teeth grinding was awful when we first met her. Now its when she doesnt feel well, is tired, you know.(that was the first behavior we chose to focus on - I wanted her to have teeth left!)
The hair was a problem because those little new shorter pieces that cant be held by a barrette tickled her face, she would rub her face and loose a contact. I used little clips and bands, even hairspray to keep those little hairs out of mischief. Im so
glad you have a support system, her OT and teachers, people to talk with about it. Brainstorming always helps.

Melissa said...

I'm a hair twirler, as is my mom so I hope Claire doesn't pick up that habit. I've caught Claire grinding her teeth a few times, but her big behavior that drives me nuts is head banging. I know some of it is communication frustration, some is just frustration at not getting her way, but seriously kid, knock it off!

Shauna said...

My oldest (not Ds) does those types of things. Since learning more about sensory stuff because of Reagan (who has NONE LOL) I realize that Clarisse has some very mild sensory issues (as so many of us do right). She has nervous hands, always needs to be fiddling with something...her hair, her bear, tearing paper etc. She is 4 1/2 now and is almost starting to realize that she needs to find something appropriate to do with her hands rather than just pulling things apart and destroying them.

Fiona said...

My youngest is also an incessant hair twirler. A while back she had to get her hair cut short becasue it was so lopsided (she only twirls with her left hand). Looking back at all her toddler pics, her hair is always shorter on tat left side.

What helped - it hasn't stopped it, but has reduced it (a LOT) - is giving her shorts pieces of wool to play with. She gets to pick the wool (the texture is super important important and only she knows what works) and then we cut short lengths to put in her pocket. She gets them out throughout the day and twiddles them, then puts them back in her pocket or throws them away.

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

i wish i had wonderful advice to share about this - unfortunately i don't. i know sammie is anne's age - maybe it is her age??? anne recently has been constantly running her hands through her hair and pulling out loose hairs but this has lead to more than just loose hairs coming out - it has become a habit. it is not terrible and hopefully will not reach the next level but i know it bothers you to see sammie doing this (and she has BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL hair!!!) hopefully her OT will have some great suggestions?:)
by the way -thanks for the kind words in your comment about whitney and also the header photo! made my day!!!

Zoey's Mom, Heather said...

No experience here. With zoey or the other 5,imagine that?You would think 1 hair twister in the bunch! Anyway, probably sensory. Comforting to her most likely. Like any of the habits mentioned by others here. Zoey is a huge, huge teeth grinder and does this little tongue sucking thingy that I have yet to be able to duplicate, or figure a way to abate them either.

Good thing we have this support system here and with therapists. So very lucky we are.

Package goes out tomorrow. Really. I swear.

Rochelle said...

No ideas on the hair twirling but, I learned at a talk tools conference this fall that daytime teeth grinding could (she said did) has everything to do with jaw strength. Dariya was doing it when we came home from Ukraine and we got her one of those chewy tubes and had her chew on it before each meal and she stopped within weeks.

Lisa said...

Cate doesn't mess with her hair but she scratches her skin until it bleeds. Last year it was her face, it started with a cut and ended with 2 pretty deep scars. Now its her forearm - better but still not great. People keep asking if she has a rash and school even thought it was chicken pox one day when the nurse was out. We got her to stop with her face by giving her a beaded pipecleaner with different shaped beads to figet with. That doesn't seem to be working this time. So the bracelt idea is definetly worth a try but keep in mind it might lose effectiveness if it take too long to overcome the habit.

Leah S. said...

When Angela was 3, her hair was past her butt. When she started kindergarten, I was always careful to have it back and out of the way. She's horrible about it always being in her food, etc. (still is at 15!!!) then she started obsessing with the ends of her braids. Soon it got to be a big problem in school. Finally about Christmas that year I had to do it. Gave her a cute chin-length bob. It was good timing, actually, because she was really interested in brushing her own hair and she just couldn't do it when it was long. We kept it short until last year when she decided shed wanted to grow it out again. Well...we just cut 8 inches off it a couple weeks ago. I HATE her cut (it's long layers and just always looks sloppy) but I think once her tip-of-nose length bangs grow out we'll keep it at chin length. She's just not able to take care of it herself when it's long.