Constantly playing with and twirling hair

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JKF, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    I've noticed that my 11 y/o difficult child CONSTANTLY twirls and plays with his hair! It drives me nuts! Everytime I look at him he's got his hands on his hair! His hair was on the shaggy side and I figured he was playing with it because it was too long so I took him for a haircut today and it's very SHORT now! Guess what! He's still twirling, stroking, and playing with his hair!

    Does anyone else have a child who constantly plays with their hair? Is it a difficult child thing? Just curious.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Has he ever been tested for tics or for anxiety related issues? This can be a sign of stress or anxiety Given his adhd diagnosis and the medications, I am wondering strongly if it is a type of tic. Not a lot of people know this but MANY who are diagnosis'd with adhd, esp inattentive type (which he isn't from the sounds of it, but this is still valid), actually have undiagnosed seizure disorders.

    Back when adhd was first treated, the late 70s/early 80s or so, before a child was given a stimulant they had to have an eeg to rule out seizures. Esp if the child had a history of febrile seizures. I remember this because the first add kid was the little bro of a friend and I remember talking about the eeg and all the wires coming "out" of his head (stuck on, but I was 11 and it looked cool in the polaroid they had - yes, I have a LOT of childhood memories like this.) during the test.

    Now? Most docs look at you like you have a third eye if you push for this. I know not all docs will go ahead and order the test. I tossed such a big stinky hissy over this with Wiz that they did it for Jess without much complaint. Boy was I glad we insisted on the sleep deprived eeg. Wiz was totally normal so the adhd medications were fine. Jess was a different story. You KNOW something is wrong when they call you for an appointment rather than sending a letter. Jess did NOT have the inattentive adhd that her teachers, her doctor, the psychiatrist and my mother all SWORE was her problem. Jess has seizures. They are absence seizures which is a nice way of saying the house is lit up and the power is on but no one is home in there. It looks like she is staring at something. In the beginning she was having so many seizures that the neuro estimated she was missing about half of everything that was going on in her life. Her brain was just not there for HALF of her life - in 10 to 50 second chunks of tme. Finding the right seizure medication hasn't been easy but has made a HUGE HUGE difference~

    Tics are neurological. They can be harmless or not. They can be a symptom of another disorder and it could be any of a wide range of things. There is also an anxiety disorder that has people pulling/twisting/yanking their hair out all the time. It is not easy to haveand I think is a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I could be very wrong on that.

    Why not start keeping a log of this - did he do it before school, when he got home, at an activity? Keep this for a couple of weeks and also do some reading on har twisting/pulling, compulsive hair twisting, tics, etc.... Also just keep an eye out for any other things that might seem like tics - I am sure others can help you identify other common tics.

    Once you have at least a week of notes, doesn't have to be detailed - this time/activity yes he did or no he didn't or he did and stopped, whatever is easy to keep, then ask the doctor about it. Are their other symptoms causing problems? Has this been gong on for days? weeks? months? years? all his life? That is important for the doctor to know because it might help show a pattern. Then you could work to find a way to help manage this and any other issues.
  3. StressedM0mma

    StressedM0mma Active Member

    JKF I know that when I am stressed I play with my hair. My anxiety has been through the roof lately, and I have noticed that both of my hands have been in my hair at the same time. It is a calming thing for me. Maybe it is for your son too? I try to stop myself when I notice it, but I am sure there are times people probably think I have bugs or something.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Can be partly a sensory thing... I did it as a kid. The only reasonable substute was real fur...
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

    OH YES... Q does and he will even tell the hair folks he likes it to feel pokey. when it is longer he twirls the curls. Oh that rhymes, ...

    anyway, I notice THAT happens (the twirling) when he is a little anxious or nervous. the rubbing and just feeling it, that seems more sensory. I used to play with my hair and twirl it a lot when a kid. One of my sisters did it to extreme and it really was distracting. Lots of kids do, and some chew it if long... yuck.
  6. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    OK. It's called "trichotillomania." Tricho is the Greek word for hair. Tillo is Greek for pulling. It is a disorder, one of a long list, including kleptomania, and all sorts of other manias. It's called pulling because some people pull their hair out, one by one. I did it for many many years (and still do, occasionally). Some people pluck their eyelashes. Twiddling is also a symptom of it. It is a form of obsessive/compulsive. I think I read somewhere that there is some form of medication which helps. Pulling out hair is a form of relieving tension. I think it is parallel to cutting but not so drastic (but it is drastic enough, believe me).

    You can see from the replies you have received here that a lot of people share this. When I look at women drivers at traffic lights, I very often see them twiddling their hair. Once you are aware of it you will be surprised how often you see people stroking their hair, smoothing one strand over and over, stuff like that. It's all part of trichotillomania. There are even support groups for "tricho" sufferers.

    Love, Esther
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son does this (also picks at his clothes) when he is nervous or uncomfortable. When he is singing in choir in front of an audience, he is the only one picking at his hair and shirt and shifting from side to side. In my son's case part is sensory, part is that he is not comfortable in front of a crowd. He also does this when he has nothing else to put his hands on.
  8. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all of the replies! I have a feeling he does it more when he's feeling anxious. I notice him doing it when he's doing his homework, also when he's in trouble, and sometimes when he's playing his video game, etc. He's been doing it for as long as I can remember but only recently have I started to notice how often he does it! It's all the time! I tried to talk with him about it and he said that he doesn't even realize he's doing it. He says it's like his hand just automatically flies to his hair! I also thinks that in general he always has to have something to fidget with so if the only thing around is his hair then the hair it is! We finally have an appointment with a therapist at the end of this month! I will bring it up to her and see what she thinks!
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Try a small fiddly toy - like a stress ball, or a "rabbits foot" or something - in his pocket?
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Esther, really??? That is interesting.. I thought it was only that if the hair was pulled out. I suppose like many things it is a specrum?? I will say though...that since puberty hit... guess who pulls out "other" hair??? So your bringing this up really ties it together for me. Very very interesting.
  11. zaftigmama

    zaftigmama New Member

    Unpopular opinion here--but this seems like a pretty innocuous tic to me and I'd probably leave it alone. I remember when I was growing up, my mom would smell her hair when she was nervous or excited--and she's about at as un-difficult child as they get. Everybody has things like that. He's not pulling it out, right?
  12. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    Zaftigmama, you are quite right. Because of what you wrote, I googled "trichotillomania" and Wikipedia describes it as pulling out the hair, not twiddling. So I stand corrected, and apologise if I have misled anyone. You are right, what is described here sounds much more like a tic. Mind you, when I went to a support group for it, there were some people who just twiddled and felt that they belonged in that support group. But Wikipedia's information is so detailed and definite. It definitely "talks" to me, and I personally find it quite alarming. But that's quite another story!

    Sorry for misleading anyone.

    Love, Esther
  13. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    My difficult child does this also. He has VERY short hair but rubs his hands in a circle motion in the back of his head. It is anxiety for him. I keep a journal of different tics or compulsive behaviors and they all occur during high stress periods.

    Just keep and eye on things and I am sure it will subside.

    One word of advice in IMVHO, don't make a big deal of this to him it will only make it worse.