Our son – Luka – is four. Luka is autistic. We received the diagnosis the night before his third birthday. I could describe Luka just as I would for a new OT or Speech Therapist, but truly – he is Luka. He is a little boy who wakes up happy, loves trains (but not when they come by our house at 2 am), and who hated haircuts.
Prior to Vernon, haircuts were a challenge. Indeed, it was the item we wrote on every form for every therapist – we’d like for Luka to get a haircut without crying. We did not even add any caveats like sitting alone in his chair, smiling, laughing, or wanting to go for a haircut. Most often the experience was 10 – 15 grueling minutes of physically holding our wailing child as he punched, pushed, or hit us to escape the situation. There was no attempt at styling. We really wanted to reach the end goal – socially acceptable haircut.
For parents who have not lived this experience, it is unfathomable and I am grateful you have not. Much of our able-bodied world is not designed with our child in mind. As a parent of a remarkable autistic child, there are many hours/weeks/months of preparation that go into most ordinary things we do every day. Yes – we have all the haircut books and pretend hair cutting tools (to be sure, they are not actually comfortable to use). Yes – we tried to sensory friendly buzzers (they are still loud). Yes – we tried haircuts at home (this resulted in a failed attempt that resulted in another dreadful haircut). Yes – we tried long hair (thanks COVID, if anything, you saved us a year of this misery).Read More
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As a barber, I saw the need for a place where children with disabilities are supported during a haircut and an environment where parents or caregivers don't have to explain their child's behavior or apologize for something they may do or say.