'He was more comfortable outside': Barber's kind gesture for boy with autism

Photo: Marky Fresh Barbershop
Photo: Marky Fresh Barbershop 

A little boy with autism will have school pictures to remember thanks to a kind gesture from a US barber.

When Marco Conti, owner of Marky Fresh Barbershop, Ohio, received an email from seven-year-old Brycen Juby's parents, Ashley and Joe, asking if they could cut their son's hair after business hours, Mr Conti immediately agreed to stay open late.

"We try to make it an equal playing field for everybody and we try to adapt to that person and try to make it a personal experience for them," Mr Conti told KMOV.

When Brycen arrived, however, despite the salon being free of other clients, they realised he was more relaxed outdoors.

"So why not just bring a chair outside and do the hair cut outside,"Mr Conti said.

And that's exactly what he did.

A photo of the sweet moment, which show's Brycen's father cradling Mason's face during the haircut, has since gone viral.

"Someone once told me 'with a great gift, you must do great things'" Mr Conti wrote on Facebook. "You probably didn't know that I go to people's homes with special needs and autism. So if you were driving past the shop today yes I was outside with a really sweet boy who felt more comfortable being outside."


Ms Juby adds of Mr Conti: "He was so accommodating and reassured me that everything would be great and it was," 

And with picture day this week the successful haircut was particularly special, marking Brycen's first year in public school.

For Mr Conti, it was simply all "part of the experience".

"We want everyone that comes in here to feel good and leave even better," he said.

It's a sentiment shared by Barber James Williams (AKA Jim the Trim) who founded the charity Autism Barbers Assemble after a photo of him lying down to cut a little boy's hair went viral in 2015.

In a Facebook post, Mr Williams writes of the snap: "the extremes you need to achieve when you're cutting hair is amazing even having to go down to a child's level -literally!"
The Welsh barber shared that he had been trying to find different ways to cut four-year-old Mason's hair - without success. Mason, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, wouldn't allow Mr Williams to near one of his ears. "He would run away at times if he wasn't up to it," he wrote.
But the pair eventually found a solution.
"Today I finally achieved it where we both lay on the floor in silence & he allowed me to cut away & give him his first proper haircut. I love making both parents happy by giving extra attention to mason by building a friendship at trust with mason & myself."
At the time, a spokesperson from  Autism Spectrum Australia told Essential Kids, "Many children and adults on the autism spectrum are sensitive to aspects of the environment that don't bother other people. One example can be sensitivity to touch so that, for these people, the feel of scissors, clippers or even other people's hands against their head causes extreme discomfort or even pain."
Raising Children's Net provides a number of tips for parents when it comes to managing appointments such as haircuts, for children with autism, including using a Social Story, visiting the location prior to the appointment and speaking to the professional beforehand about a child's "sensory sensitivities."
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