Some of you may be wondering why on earth I am wearing that hideous green cap on my head. For others, that hideous green cap might be all too familiar and quite possibly may even strike fear into you when you laid eyes on it. Yes, I am afraid to say, this week we have been dealing with the dreaded head lice. NITS (just hearing that word will start you scratching your head am I right?); by my definition are those tiny little bugs that overtake our little ones heads and then decide to make a nice little home in the grown-ups heads just to keep us busy parents on our toes.
As if any of us have all the time in the world to spend hours and hours combing each little strand multiple times to ensure we have removed every little egg; hours stripping beds and washing linen just in case; soaking hairbrushes for good measure, all the while trying to stop the 2 year old from pulling of the cap and sticking his fingers in his chemical laden hair (amazing how compliant a 2 year old can be, however, with a bag of lolly snakes). In our case, Miss 6 had been scratching her head for a couple of days, but I had checked and re-checked her hair and found nothing so I thought we were safe. It was only when a lovely hairdresser friend (who has seen many heads with nits), kindly offered to check her hair for me and solemnly informed me that I was unfortunately dealing with a case of head lice and not a minor scalp sensitivity as I had been hoping.
And so the process began.
And what a process it was. In my case, I guess I was fortunate as Miss 6 seemed to think it was quite exciting and eagerly awaited the treating, combing, the lolly snakes and then the fish and chips (no way I could cook after that!) However, having worked with a number of children with sensory processing disorder all I could think was how difficult and distressing this process potentially could be for them and for their parents. Sensory Processing disorder also known as sensory integration dysfunction is where the brain is unable to accurately process the information coming in from the senses. Occupational therapists are experts in diagnosing and managing sensory processing disorder and will initially complete what is called a sensory profile to determine what the individual may need to help manage this condition. Marita an amazing mum I have the pleasure of knowing (great blog you should definitely check out; www.stuffwiththing.com), has two daughters on the spectrum with quite different sensory profiles and she has been dealing with these pesky little bugs as well. I asked Marita if she had any tips for parents and these were her great ideas (plus a couple of my own) below:
- Patience and distraction is a must. You could put on your child’s favourite DVD or television program to watch.
- Set your child up with something that you know will provide calming sensory input. Marita uses a chewy tube for her daughter. For some children perhaps sitting on a fit ball where they can gently bounce and receive sensory input through movement may help. For other’s music they like may provide the calming sensory input they need.
- Something to hold, like an I-Pad so your child’s hands are full and not in their hair.
- Some children may feel anxious about the process involved. If you think your child can manage it, have them see what you need to do by watching you treat another member of the family. If this may not work for your child, you could even record the process and have your child watch this prior to or when you are treating their hair.
- Many lice treatments are quite strong smelling. If your child is sensitive to smell, try to choose one with lower fragrance or provide them with something else they may prefer to smell while you are treating their hair.
- Bribes tend to work well for older children (eg. One on one time works well for Marita’s daughter or perhaps you can use a special treat or outing as a reward)
- Settle in and prepare for a couple of hours of screaming and tears.
- GOOD LUCK!!!
Now I’m off for round two with these little menaces and then next stop de-worming (I kid you not, just had notification from the mum of Miss 6’s best friend that her daughter has worms).
Gotta love parenting!