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Francis Franz Jacob, an enthusiastic hairdresser, saw himself welcoming a client with special needs just a few weeks after opening his new barbershop.

Autism and Haircut

His new client, Wyatt Lafreniere, had been diagnosed with autism and never seemed to be interested in, nor enjoy, getting a regular haircut. The 4-year-old child suffered traumatic experiences at the sight of someone touching his hair. At times, even certain sounds can make a haircut a very unpleasant experience for autistic children.

Wyatt’s mother recalled that she wondered if the barber would really be interested in giving him a haircut after knowing his case.

Jacob says, “The mother explained to me her son’s situation and that he is a child with special needs. Nevertheless, I took this as a challenge, and thankfully, I succeeded,” explains Jacob.

Meleri Thomas, a member of National Autistic Society from the UK, explains, “Young children diagnosed with autism are often seen to undergo an extremely distressing experience when it comes to having their hair cut.” She continues, “One reason could be due to sensory activities and multiple challenges associated with the ASD disorder.”

Meleri explains, “This also means that an autistic person ends up experiencing trauma at the sight of someone running their hands through their hair or hearing the clipping noise of scissors, which leads to an aggravation of the situation.”

Jacob, who had never seen a child with special needs nor performed his impeccable hairdo’s on autistic children, says, “As usual I went along, taking my time, and performed the work with love and a good pair of scissors.”

“I decided to allow the child to roam around the shop without any fuss and I just followed him wherever he went. I was careful enough not to force anything on him,” says Jacob.

He recalls having a great time while eating candy together. Interestingly, Jacob allowed Wyatt to fiddle with his music system, allowing him to tune to the music of his choice. Wyatt used to switch his position and sit either on the chair or on the floor. Nevertheless, wherever the child went, Jacob followed suit.

Finally, Wyatt walked out with a beautiful haircut ninety minutes later.

Fauve Lafreniere, Wyatt’s mother, says, “it was the most beautiful moment, seeing my child with a neat haircut. Earlier, it was a tough experience to get him a haircut.”

The mother continues, “Thankfully, today I have someone who doesn’t mind spending extra time to ensure my son gets his haircut.”

Impressed with her newfound experience, Fauve started spreading the word through every nook and corner of the city. Her city is based about 300 miles northwest of Montreal.

As soon as others heard about her experience, parents started visiting Jacob’s barbershop with their kids and loved ones diagnosed with autism. Today, Jacob regularly serves autistic clients and has decorated his shop to give everyone a soothing experience.

Jacob says, “Back here, we spend our time sitting around, eating candies and listening to some amazing music. With my every client, I make sure there is something more than just a regular hairdo.”

“It is an amazing experience to receive love and warmth from everywhere,” concludes Jacob.

Haircuts and Autism: Here is what you need to know
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Haircuts and Autism: Here is what you need to know
An article highlighting the everyday struggles of autistic children which NT's take for granted!
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