How One Woman Is Using Scissors and a Smile to Help the Autism Community

Colleen Spano, 46, from Mishawaka, Indiana, is the founder and CEO of Sunshine Behavior Consulting and Shear Sunshine, two businesses centered around helping people with disabilities.

Spano got her cosmetology license right after graduating high school and also has a Master’s in education, she told The Mighty. And when she discovered her daughter, Izzy, now 18, is on the autism spectrum, Spano further focused her career goals.

She now owns a consulting business offering behavioral coaching. Last spring, she started a new business, Shear Sunshine, offering sensory-friendly, in-home haircuts for children on the spectrum.

Often for children on the spectrum, loud noises, bright lights, strange smells and unknown people and places can be upsetting — and a hair salon generally has all of these things. Spano tries to combat the trauma associated with getting haircuts by creating a friendly environment. She emails her clients a picture book telling the child what to expect from her visit. She then spends time getting to know the kids, brings toys, offers lots of breaks and allows them to sit in a parent’s lap and in whatever room they feel most comfortable.

“I would like to make one less thing stressful for them, make them feel in control,” Spano told The Mighty.

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Spano, who currently has around 30 clients, is in the process of expanding the business. She would eventually like to organize visits to group homes, special education departments or any place where children are overwhelmed or upset easily by the necessary act of getting a haircut.

“I know it’s really hard when your child has struggles, especially when it’s something you can’t do anything about. Kids have to get haircuts,” Spano told The Mighty. “And it’s nice to be able to take one less stressor off parents’ plates.”

Check out some of the smiling faces of her satisfied customers below:

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For more information, visit the Sunshine Behavior Consulting website or the Shear Sunshine Facebook page.

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