Hair pulling, continued

Today, I dropped Lina off at Mother’s Day Out with more nervousness than I’ve felt since her first day there.

She was wearing a mini backpack, purchased at Toys R Us for $9 and loaded with two books weighing almost exactly two pounds. (I know, because I weighed them on the kitchen scale.) A textured ribbon was tied to the straps. She had calming essential oils massaged into the soles of her feet. I had quickly run through our sets of 10 joint compressions in the car before coming in. I’d forgotten the nubby chew tube I ordered to help with molar teething and oral sensory input, but we’ll remember next week. Just before I left, the program director took a drop-off picture to finish out the visual schedule they’ve been preparing for her.

ALL of this is an effort to address the chronic hair-pulling that has become such a pervasive problem every Tuesday. We’ve seen a resurgence everywhere, but it is by far the biggest problem at school. I observed for a half-hour or so from the window recently, and the other kids in the room were clearly terrified of her. They cried and held their hair every time she got close. It was awful.

Thankfully, this Mother’s Day Out program has a mission to include kids like Lina. They have a special education teacher on staff – not Lina’s classroom teacher, but available for support – and one of the program directors herself has two kids with special needs. They get where we’re coming from, and they are willing to work hard to address the problem. My sit-down with the director, special ed teacher and classroom teacher a couple weeks ago was really hard, but so constructive. I am hopeful that the plan we created together will help Lina work through this.

I don’t know what the report will be today. I don’t expect an immediate cure. I’m just hoping that we can find constructive ways for her to channel the frustration and sensory needs that she currently expresses by yanking the hair from innocent children’s heads. If anyone out there has experience with this, I am open to any and all suggestions. 

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