DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One in 68 children will be diagnosed with autism. And in honor of the 8th annual World Autism Awareness Day, businesses all over North Texas are raising money and awareness. That includes the childrens’ hair salon, Snip-Its, which has two North Texas locations. Stylists have all of the usual certifications there, but they also have an additional one: they are experts in giving haircuts to children on the Autistic Spectrum.
The bright, busy environment at Snip-Its is soothing to most reluctant young clients, but not so for children with autism.
“Any new experience can cause anxiety and it can cause a meltdown to happen. The other is just the sensory part of it,” says Neil Massey, development director with the Autism Treatment Center.
Add scissors or a razor, and it can be downright dangerous. But not for stylists like Fanasha Johnson.
“Basically, be patient. Let the child see your comb, see the tools you’re using,” she says.
She and all of her colleagues at Snip-Its receive training so families of children with autism have a place to go. It starts with a scheduled pre-visit.
“We’ll let them sit in the chair. We have games they can play, they can watch a movie. Blow bubbles. We have lollipops,” she says.
On haircut day, she walks the child through every step.
“Let them know, ‘I’m about to use scissors now. I’m about to use clippers now.’ Let them feel it, stuff like that,” she says.
Johnson knows they are providing a service that might otherwise prove difficult. But the gratitude, she says, goes both ways.
“It means a lot to me. It makes me proud. Some people would probably shy away from the haircut, but not me. I like it,” says Johnson.
On Saturday, April 2nd, thousands of buildings will “light it up blue” to raise awareness about autism. And at Snip-its, they will have a competition between stores where whoever shows the most spirit wins a prize.
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