A Letter of Thanks to My Son’s Hairstylist

There is an unsung hero among the autistic community. Her name is Karis, and she works at Cool Cuts for Kids.

Things that come easy for most kids, like haircuts, are often very challenging obstacles for children with autism. The first time my son sat in the little firetruck at Cool Cuts for Kids for a haircut with Karis, he had one of the worst meltdowns I think I’d ever witnessed. It took Karis, me, and my husband to pin him down to finish the haircut. I was sure I’d hear what I’d heard before, that we’d need to find someone else.

That’s not what Karis did. Instead, she gave me encouragement and suggestions. She told me it would get better, and there were things I could do to help. She told me to use a vibrating toothbrush at home next to his ears to help him get used to the sensation of the clippers. She suggested we get toy clippers and pretend to give haircuts at home. She let his behavior therapist come to haircuts to offer support. She let me film video and take photos to create a social story he could watch between haircuts.

For more than 2 years, my son’s hairstylist, Karis, has shown more patience, professionalism, and compassion for our family than most families receive in a lifetime.

My son now looks forward to going to see Miss Karis and get a haircut.  This may seem insignificant to some, but for our family, this is an enormous success.

To her, this is probably just part of her job. To me, this is an olive branch of autism acceptance that the world needs to see and embrace. I want to personally thank Cool Cuts for Kids for hiring employees, like Karis, who welcome children of all abilities into their salon with open arms.

Helping one person might not change the world, but it might change the world for one person.

– Priya Jain

Published by

Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.