Any parent knows that getting a child’s haircut isn’t always easy. In fact, many young children become agitated and upset when faced with a trip to the hairdressers. For children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it can be infinitely harder and more stressful – for everyone.
If you consider the environment at a hairdressers, it’s hardly surprising that children with ASD might find it distressing. From being touched, to the sound of scissors cutting through hair, to the feel of the clippers vibrating against the skin. It’s also a noisy and busy environment, with bright lights and glaring mirrors. For many parents of children with ASD, haircuts are high on the list of their worst experiences to endure.
For Michael Flores, an eight year old boy with ASD, the first haircut had been a traumatic experience. After that, his mother, Joan Flores, even began cutting his hair at home to spare them both the experience of a trip to the hairdressers. Even this was difficult for Michael, and it was never an event either of them looked forward to.
One day, Jean, noticed a new barbershop in town and decided to take her oldest son, David, along to check it out. After a pleasant experience at Bladez Barbershop in Vernon, New Jersey, Jean decided it might be worth taking Michael along to this barbershop to see if it’s a more successful haircut. Expecting the trip to be a failure, Jean explained to the barber, Freddy Tineo, that Michael was autistic.
Freddy immediately started chatting and joking with Michael, and managed to put him right at ease. Not only did Michael not freak out, he actually enjoyed the haircut and soon asked to go back. Jean was amazed. It might not sound like a huge deal, but eliminating that ongoing struggle has made a huge difference to this strong family.
When the family decided to move over 300 miles away to Vermont, Jean was worried when she realised that this meant they’d no longer be able to visit Freddy’s barbershop. After another blissfully stress-free haircut appointment, Jean joked on Facebook that if she could afford to, she would fly Freddy back and forth to cut her son’s hair. Freddy saw that post and it gave him an idea.
The next time the family visited the barbershop, Freddy told them that he’d been saving up to make a trip to Vermont to cut Michael’s hair before his first day at his new school. Seeing the post on Facebook had made Freddy realise just how important a part he was playing in this family’s life, and he wasn’t prepared to give that up. Moved, overjoyed and overwhelmed, Joan took to her blog to publicly thank Freddy for this wonderful gesture. You can read her original post over at The Ausome Family.
What an amazing barber! It’s these little gestures that make life so much easier for families across the world. And it really highlights the difference that you as an individual can make to the world.