How a Barber Gave My Son With Autism His First Great Barber Shop Visit

My son, Dominic, has been to a barber shop exactly twice. The first time, my husband and I took him to the local Meijer barber shop and he gagged and cried so much, we had to leave. The second time, he bolted out of the barber shop and almost ran into the road. I’ve been cutting his hair ever since. I would have to get myself mentally “geared up” to give him his haircuts, because it would be so upsetting for the both of us. When he was small enough, I could put him in his booster seat, strap him in and cut away. Given that he is now over 120 pounds, those days are long gone.

This past Saturday, Dominic out of the blue started saying, “Haircut, barber shop, socks and shoes, car.” He probably repeated it at least half a dozen times. Every time he would say it, my response back was, “Are you sure?” I tried to explain to him that once the barber started, he would have to finish. He was extremely persistent about wanting to go. He wore me down until I finally said, “OK, fine, let’s go to the barber shop.” We actually went back to the second barber shop we had tried about nine years ago. I parked the car behind the barber shop and we walked around to the entrance. I looked inside and there was at least eight people sitting there. I told Dominic, “OK, they are way too busy. We are going to have to come back another time.”

I turned around and we started walking back toward our car. As we went past the side door of the barber shop, one of the barbers came out and approached us. I explained to him that Dominic has autism and that he had been requesting a haircut all morning. I told him, “We can just come back another time, you look really busy.” The barber then said, “Come back in, most of the people are waiting for a certain barber to cut their hair.” We came back in and Dominic and I sat down. It was quite warm in the barber shop and the longer we waited, the more anxious and sweaty I got.

I was really getting concerned because of all the noise inside the barber shop and the fact that we would have to wait. Dominic was playing with his Nintendo DS that he recently got for his birthday and he was “chill.” I was the one who was a nervous wreck! After about 15 minutes, the barber said, “Dominic, are you ready?” We both walked over to the chair and he started using scissors on his hair. I said, “Let’s try an electric pair if they aren’t too loud.”

The barber took the extra time to explain everything to Dominic during the entire haircut and Dominic trusted him 100 percent. He said things like, “OK, Dominic, now I’ll get the fuzzies around your ears.” He constantly reassured him. Dominic, like most kids, whether they have special needs or not, like predictability. I think the constant reassurance was key for him. I found out after the haircut that the barber had previous experience with children with special needs. As the barber rang us up at the register, I pulled out an extra $5 for a tip. I really wish I had more $1 bills on me! He did such a great job, don’t you think? I think the smile on Dominic’s face says it all.

I’ve had so many people tell me that Dominic’s thick hair is his “trademark.” Most people don’t realize I’ve always wanted him to have short hair, but since I’ve been cutting it and he would only sit still for a short amount of time, that has been impossible.

On the way out of the shop, the barber handed me his card. I tucked it away into my purse and didn’t pull it out again until a few days ago. The barber who cut Dominic’s hair is the owner! Awesome. We certainly won’t wait another nine years to come back.

Follow this journey on Bountiful Plate.

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