WOODBURY, Minn. -- Kids’ Hair stylist Tonya Lindholm sizes up her tiny client- four year old Roman. “Has he sat in the chair?” she asks Roman’s mom, Britnie Siedow.
Roman has autism, and haircuts are not his favorite thing.
“He can be somewhat unpredictable at times,” said Siedow.
While Lindholm has always had clients on the autism spectrum, she now has specialized training, through Fraser, one of the state’s leading autism services providers.
Kids’ Hair partnered with Fraser to eventually train all of its stylists. “We’ve always been very committed to providing a very safe, comfortable and fun environment for kids,” said Scott Burtness, Chief Operating Officer for Kids Hair, Inc. “We want to make sure all kids are included in that.”
Fraser occupational therapist Gina Gibson is involved in training the stylists. “We helped give them a little more insight as to why haircuts are challenging.”
Sensory issues, like the sound of a blow dryer, scissors against the skin, bright lights, even sitting on a raised chair can all put a child with autism well out of their comfort zone.
Lindholm is patient with Roman, letting him know what she’s doing, checking in with him to make sure he’s comfortable. “Instead of spraying his head (with water) I’m spraying my hand, which helps a lot.”
Roman is also watching his favorite TV show on the monitor at Lindholm’s station. Every stylists has “fidgets” – items they can play with to keep their hands busy, so their bodies can stay still.
Kids’ Hair started rolling out its trainings this summer. In October, it donated a portion of haircut proceeds to Fraser. The goal is to eventually train every stylist.
“Everybody deserves a good haircut,” said Lindholm. “Every parent deserves a place where stylists are educated and can handle all of the issues that take place for a haircut.”
Roman got through his haircut with flying colors. Lindholm gave him a high five as she helped him down from her chair. “I’m so proud of you!” she beamed as he turned to his mom for a hug. She was beaming, too.
To learn more about the Fraser/Kids' Hair partnership click here