Saturday 31 December 2016

Dear Sarah

Dear Sarah,

As you know L has Autism and sensory issues. One of his major issues that he has always struggled with is people touching his hair.
We found this out the hard way.
During his very first haircut at 18 months of age of age, L sat very still in the chair but he had a pained look on his face. We assumed that he was uncomfortable as it was his first haircut. He tolerated the experience but he clearly wasn’t comfortable.
With each subsequent hair cut after that, it became a battle, to the point that one of us would need to sit in the chair with L on our lap. We would need to pin him down so that the hairdresser or barber could do their work. Appointments were very loud.

In the past an outing to the hair dresser would take anywhere between 3 and 4 hours and would be extremely emotionally taxing on all of us.
L has also never liked us brushing his hair. This would lead to massive problems as his hair is quite curly. As you are well aware curls and no brushing means knots and dreadlocks. Knots and dreadlocks meant hair cut time.
We then purchased a hair trimming kit and tried to cut L's hair at home. We were able to trim his hair as he was playing in the backyard. L then had a series of slightly dodgy haircuts.

Then we found you.
We found your salon quite by accident. Daddy superhero needed a haircut and afterwards he came home and told us all about you. During his appointment, you two had a conversation about ASD and ADHD and you seemed to really know your stuff. You weren’t judgmental when Daddy superhero told you about L’s sensitivities to people touching his hair. You seemed to understand.
It just so happened that L was due for another hair cut so we thought, why not let’s give a trip to the hair dressers another shot.
We made an appointment with you for when the traffic through the shopping centre should be low so that we’d get off to a good start. The minute Daddy superhero and L arrived in the salon, you started engaging with L. You tried to talk to L about superheros but you made the mistake of saying that you preferred Superman over Batman. As you now know, Batman is the best!!
But L sat in the chair. By himself. Without being bribed.
L began to relax, he didn’t squirm around and he became comfortable enough to actually let you trim his hair. L didn’t fight you. And when you had finished, he looked quite the little spunk.
L mightn’t have said a word during the appointment, but he sure told everyone about “his Sarah” when he and Daddy superhero arrived home. Why? Because you engaged with L about his all time favourite thing. Superheroes.
You’ve definitely made an impression on L.
You’ve built cubby houses for L under the bench when you’ve been cutting Daddy superheroes hair so that L could escape the noise. You talk to L about superheroes. You’ve shown L how to put special cream in his hair so that he will have spiky hair, something that I still get in trouble with because I don’t do it right like Sarah! You explain what you are going to do so that L knows what to expect.
You’ve also made a very good impression on O. You’ve ensured that you have included her in conversation when she has been in the salon. O was very impressed that you pampered her during her appointment.
Your level of patience and understanding of Autism and sensory issues is wonderful. You are patient when L does wiggle around and you understand how to work with him so that he won’t become uncomfortable. You understand that when L doesn’t want to talk that it isn’t personal. You just give him space and time to start engaging with you. You don’t push the issue.
L now lets us brush his hair. It might not be every day but the fact that he will willingly let us brush his hair, that is a huge improvement. He tells everyone about “his Sarah!”
We never expected the level of service that you provide to us as a family. During every appointment you go above and beyond to accommodate us. Your level of service is exceptional and I thank you.
You’ve made a huge difference to L and O. Hair appointments are no longer painful experiences. Now if only we could get O to brush her hair every day!

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