Getting a haircut for your child can be challenging under the best of circumstances. When your child has autism, it can be even more difficult. A hair salon can cause sensory overload for an autistic child, from being touched, to the strong smells from chemical treatments, to sudden blasts of hot air from loud blow dryers.
The difficulties of getting a haircut for a child with autism made news recently when a woman in Michigan left a salon in tears with her autistic son after the salon owner yelled at them, according to a bystander.
The haircut chain Snip-Its, which has a salon in Crofton, tries to make trips to a stylist less stressful for kids with autism. About five years ago Snip-Its paired with Autism Speaks to provide a safe and understanding place where parents can take their children with autism for a haircut, said Marsha Cole, the director of artistic training for the Snip-Its Corporation.
“Parents were telling [Autism Speaks] about how they had to cut their own child’s hair, because they couldn’t bring them to a salon,” Cole said. “There was not a salon that could handle their needs.. . . The statistics showed there was a need for a place where they could go to get a haircut.”
All Snip-Its stylists have the option to be trained on how to cut hair quickly, even when a child is moving around, and to distract the child with bubbles or games, Cole said. The one-hour training program also includes information about autism. Most stylists at the chain choose to go through the certification program, Cole said. Smells and loud noises may still be troubling for some customers.
Snip-Its has a DVD that parents and children can watch at home, and the salons encourage parents to bring their child for a preliminary visit, so he will know what to expect. They also have pamphlets the child can look at either at home or in the salon, with pictures from the video.
Snip-Its is normally a walk-in salon, but it does take appointments for children with autism, Cole said, so parents can get the child in and out quickly without having to wait for a particular stylist.
Crofton’s Snip-Its is at Waugh Chapel Towne Centre, 1406 S. Main Chapel Way, Suite 112. A hair cut is $18.99. A bang trim for girls or neck and ear trim for boys is $8.99.