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Wendy Williams and Identity Salon to Offer Sensory-Friendly Haircuts

Over the past year, multiple retailers – from Toys ‘R’ Us to Costco – have announced one-off sensory-friendly quiet shopping hours. While these events are certainly a step in the right direction, people on the autism spectrum and sensory sensitivities need to go shopping and get the same services everyone else does, and they need to go more than once a year. To help make personal care services more accessible to kids on the spectrum, stylist Wendy Williams will be offering sensory-sensitive haircuts every Sunday to those on the autism spectrum.

“My husband is a school social worker and we have had many conversations about the gap in services and overwhelming need to provide sensory-sensitive social experiences for kids,” Williams told The Mighty. “I just think it is important that we all do our best to be open-minded and recognize the unique talents and needs of others. I’m hopeful my little part in doing so makes life easier for a few.”

All appointments, which must be made in advance, will take place at Identity Salon in Grand Blanc, Michigan, where Williams works. Salons are not typically a sensory-friendly place; most are loud, bright and overwhelmingly fragrant. To reduce the sensory-overload of a fully operating salon, Williams will be offering services on Sundays, when the salon is typically closed, ensuring the space can be adapted to fit her clients’ needs. Williams will also provide sensory tools and social stories to help make each haircut as enjoyable as possible.

Of course, Williams is just one stylist and can’t cut everyone’s hair. Her advice to other stylists with clients on the spectrum: Prepare ahead of time. “Get to know the child and their specific needs before they arrive,” she advised. “Have the parents or child complete a sensory response inventory, create a social story specific for the child and be willing to take as much time as needed on the day of the hair service to be sure the first experience with you is a positive as possible.”

For those on the spectrum looking to get a haircut, Williams suggests letting the stylist know your needs before the appointment and visiting the salon ahead of time, so you know what to expect.

The sensory-friendly appointments will begin March 26.

Thinkstock image via -Elika-