Has a parent ever walked into your salon with an autistic child who needs a hair cut? If so, you know that it would be helpful for the hairdresser to be prepared. A neurological disorder that affects the way a person sees the world, communicates and interacts with other people, autism in children has increased more than 70 percent since 2007, affecting one in every 88 U.S. births and nearly one in 54 boys, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The symptoms of autism vary according to the individual; nevertheless, in consideration of World Autism Awareness Day this week and National Autism Awareness Month throughout April, Healthy Hairdresser offers some general tips for serving the autistic client:
*Speak in a calm, low voice.
*Do not surprise the child from behind.
*Keep directions simple.
*If you give a direction or ask a question, be patient. Before following the instruction or responding, some individuals with autism need time to process the information or question.
These tips are included in a special “Haircutting Training Guide” available from Autism Speaks. The guide was developed in collaboration with Snip-Its kids’ salons. Autism Speaks also offers the Little Star Hairdresser Story App, a story parents can customize with their own photos to prepare an autistic child about what to expect at the salon. This is something you might want to share with any clients who you know have an autistic child.
Please email Healthy Hairdresser at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have stories about your clients or your own family dealing with autism.