Something as simple as getting a haircut can be a daunting task when you have a child with autism. Those with autism can become upset when their routine is changed and may experience sensory sensitivity that can cause stress, anxiety, and meltdowns when they experience hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to sights, lights, color, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches.
Sixteen-year-old Evan O’Dwyer was having the best of days when he came into Donncha O’Connell’s barber shop, the Baldy Barber in Blackpool Ireland, for a haircut.
O’Connell had been cutting O’Dwyer’s hair for the last 14 years and understood how O’Dwyer’s family sometimes struggled with daily tasks since he is nonverbal and lives with autism. So, it wasn’t that much of a surprise when O’Dwyer ran out of the barber shop mid-hair cut to find his safe space, the family’s minivan.
“He sat in the chair first and as soon as the clippers started he was out of the chair,” O’Dwyer’s mother Deirdre told metro.co.uk. “His brother Dylan got him back in the chair again but it wasn’t working. I could see Evan was getting anxious and agitated, so I knew to avoid a meltdown the best thing to do was to get him in the car.”
O’Connell wanted to make sure he finished the job of giving O’Dwyer a nice haircut while making him feel calm and secure. So, he walked right out to the family’s car and finished the hair cut inside while O’Dwyer’s brother Dylan held his hands.
O’Dwyer’s family was so touched by O’Connell’s gesture that they posted a tribute to him on O’Dwyer’s Facebook page.
“It’s great when you have a brilliant barber and who totally understand autism and who will go to any lengths to make your child feel comfortable,” O’Dwyer’s Facebook page read. “Donncha O Connell Snr has been cutting Evan’s hair for the past 14 years but today Evan had other ideas and refused to stay in the chair so Donncha and his brother Dylan improvised and he cut his hair in the car. Fair play Donncha always making Evan feel at ease.”
That post went viral and was shared more than 2,000 times and was even picked up by the Love What Matters Facebook page, according to Fox News.
“So when I put up the post today about Evan getting his haircut, I never dreamed it would get such a reaction,” Deidre O’Dwyer wrote in a follow-up Facebook post. “Here’s hoping other parents who have children on the spectrum realise that there are kind and caring people out there willing to go above and beyond to help make a difference to our challenging everyday lives.”
Check out the video about this act of kindness and compassion below.
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