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

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Amy Nielsen lives in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of four children ranging in age from 5-33! She and her husband, Brent enjoy sports and traveling. Amy is a former teacher with nearly 20 years of experience, a freelance writer, and a special needs advocate. Her mission is to help educate and empower families of children with disabilities to focus on their child's interests and strengths.