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CAR Autism Roadmap
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CAR Autism Roadmap
Roberts Center for Pediatric Research
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Hair Care for Girls and Young Women


Hair care is a necessary part of the grooming and hygiene routine. Your daughter may have a strong personal preference for how she wears her hair, which may be related to appearance or to manageability, or she may seem not to care. When deciding on a style and hair routine, let your daughter's personal preferences be your guide. The following ideas may help you in establishing a personal hygiene routine.

  • Consider level of interest, sensory issues, fine motor skills, and motivation.
  • Think about a simple hair style that is manageable for your daughter and for you. Long hair takes more work to wash and style, and tangles can become a problem.
  • Hair brushing and combing may be a problem depending on sensory issues. Your daughter may need a short hair cut that requires little hair brushing and will not tangle.
  • Consider a hair washing schedule. Wash hair at least every second or third day. (Greasy or dirty hair can make your daughter a target for teasing or bullying.)
  • Stay with your daughter in the bathroom while she washes her hair to make sure she applies shampoo and washes her whole head. Practice on a doll or have her wash other family members hair so she can practice the sequence and getting the whole head washed and rinsed.
  • Backward chaining: Have your daughter start with the final step first: rinsing the hair, then go backward breaking each step down and only adding a new step after the prior steps are mastered. This way she eventually puts the entire routine together.
  • Social Stories ™ can be developed by taking photos of what needs to be done to complete hair washing:
    1. Picture of the child with dry, dirty hair
    2. Picture of the child getting her hair wet
    3. Applying shampoo
    4. Rubbing the head and making suds
    5. Rinse until water runs clean
    6. Add the conditioner
    7. Rinse the conditioner
    8. Drying with a towel
    9. Combing the hair
    10. Drying with a hair dryer (optional)
    11. All done and smiling

As your daughter gets older, her peers will likely begin to care more about their own hair styles. Your daughter may or may not begin to care how her own hair looks. As girls approach adolescence, often hair becomes part of their identity. If your child has a hair style preference, listen and let her have some control over what she wants. It's natural and part of growing up!

Additional Resources

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.