Think of getting a haircut from a child’s perspective: you sit in a chair that’s too big for you, wear a strange apron tight around your neck, and then a complete stranger begins touching your hair—and using sharp implements. Oh, and you’re not allowed to move at all while the scissors and razor flash around your head.
The experience can be even worse for a child with autism. Sitting still in a stranger’s chair can cause anxiety, anger, and even a meltdown. A hairdresser that doesn’t understand can easily grow impatient, exacerbating everyone’s discomfort. It’s enough to inspire parents to let their children’s hair grow unchecked until there’s some better, less traumatizing way to get a haircut.
Enter the world’s most creative hairdresser. Stylist Jenine Dixon wants to make haircuts a positive experience for children on the spectrum that understandably don’t like going into a salon. So rather than confine a child to a chair to make things easier for her, she’s willing to move with the child to make things easier for them.
The strategy works beautifully for Archie, a curious eight-year-old on the autism spectrum.
Archie had a complete meltdown when his mom took him to get a haircut in his own neighborhood. His mother, Caroline, said watching him going through that kind of trauma was “absolutely heartbreaking.”
When Caroline and Archie found Jenine, 170 miles away, they knew she was worth the drive. In the video below Jenine joins Archie in one of his favorite activities, hunting for spiderwebs, and somehow she gently slips a haircut in there.
“She is unique, she really is unique. Not many hairdressers can do what she can do,” Caroline said. She says that Jenine and Archie are friends now.
Jenine wants children to feel comfortable with her and be confident that their haircut is not going to hurt. Her gentleness and patience have prompted many parents to travel long distances to have Jenine cut their children’s hair—and maybe join them on a spiderweb hunt.