kids

Hairdresser's act of compassion towards a little autistic boy who hates his hair being cut.

Some children with autism can’t stand to have their hair cut. Whether it be the brightly lit salon, the noise, the buzzing of the clippers, the proximity of scissors to their ears or the unfamiliar smell, for parents of children with autism it’s a nightmare.

Unless you meet a hairdresser who is willing to take the time to figure out exactly what your child needs to feel comfortable enough to get a hair cut. That hairdresser is one in a million.

Special needs mum Jennifer McCafferty posted this photo shortly after Christmas, of her local hairdresser sitting on the floor with a little boy in her lap. She is cutting his adorably curly hair slowly and carefully.

Jennifer’s four-year-old son Isaiah has autism and as a result suffers from a range of sensory issues, one of which is having anything near his ears and another of which is the sound of buzzing. In the past she had found it difficult to get Isaiah’s hair cut.

She turned up to the salon in Charleston, West Virginia in the US, hoping to have her son’s hair cut but it wasn’t going well. Jennifer was just about to leave when this hairdresser, Kaylen, sat on the floor with Isaiah in her lap and chatted to him about Dory and Christmas while she trimmed his locks. He even let her spray his hair with a water bottle.

Jennifer wrote on Facebook: “This woman, Kaylen, at Sports Clips in Charleston did more for my heart than she will probably ever realise. Haircuts with Isaiah are no small feat. He hates having anything near his ears, the sound of clippers sends him in to a tailspin…this evening was no different. I was ready to give up, but she wasn’t. She sat on the floor with my baby in her lap, and she cut his hair. They talked about Dory and Christmas, and she even let him spray her with her water bottle.”

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"They talked about Dory and Christmas, and she even let him spray her with her water bottle." (Image: Jennifer McCafferty)

Jennifer told Huffington Post that hairdresser Kaylen wasn't phased by Isaiah's screams, understanding that he needed a "quiet, safe space" in which to calm his 'sensory overload'.

She then took the time to figure out what he needed to feel safe and comfortable - which happened to be on the floor.

“She wasn’t fazed by his screams; she understood his fears,” Jennifer said. “She figured out where it was he needed to go, which just so happened to be the floor, and she took him there.”

The last sentence of her Facebook post read: "Autism can be so very, very hard, but people like this make our days just a little easier."

And with these words she is speaking on behalf of the many special needs parents who face additional challenges to achieve even the most basic of things, such as a hair cut or a shoe fitting or a dental visit. It's a story special needs mums need to hear, parents who are normally desperately trying to look after their children with autism without the judgmental stares of strangers, sometimes real and sometimes imagined.

Jennifer says she hopes by sharing Isaiah's story she will bring hope to other parents of kids with special needs, the ones who have to lie down in the dental chair with their children on top of them, or the ones who have to bring headphones to the movies in case an unexpected sound terrifies their child.

“I want them to realise that even though it can feel like it, they are not alone,” she told the publication. “I want everyone to see just how much love and kindness matter.”

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