Marco Conti is a barber with a big heart. Recently, a small gesture of kindness that he performed has actually gone viral, and we are feeling all the feels.
7-year-old Brycen Juby is a young boy who, at the age of 2, was diagnosed with autism and apraxia of speech. He was actually non-verbal until he was 5. Ashley Juby, his mother, explained to Yahoo Lifestyle how difficult haircuts proved to be for Brycen. After “screaming meltdowns” in barbershops, his father, Joe, decided to try cutting Brycen’s hair at home. However, Brycen “would still meltdown every time.”
When Brycen began to tolerate his hair being cut at home, his parents thought about seeing if they could try taking him to a barbershop again. They got in touch with Conti’s Markey Fresh Barbershop in Mentor, Ohio. They asked Conti, the shop’s co-owner, if it were possible to get Brycen’s hair cut after-hours. Conti was more than happy to oblige. But, he even went one step further in order to appease the young boy, who was still pretty emotional.
Conti noticed that the boy was much calmer outside the shop, so he asked Brycen if he’d prefer to have his hair cut outside, and Brycen agreed. Conti moved the chair outside to the sidewalk. While Conti got started, Joe cradled his son’s face.
The sweet moment was captured in a picture that Marky Fresh then shared to their Facebook page, as well as a link to Fox 8 Cleveland’s story about the barbershop’s efforts to help Brycen feel more comfortable while getting a haircut.
❤️ Thank you for all the kind words we’ve received and thank you for sharing our message. https://fox8.com/2019/10/14/mentor-barber-accommodates-request-for-7-year-old-boy-with-autism/
As Conti told Yahoo, “I feel that it is our duty to open our hearts and to accommodate everyone as best as we can with whatever resources we have available with action over the intention. I just wanted him to feel loved and comfortable and safe and that there was nothing to fear.”
Ashley added, “There are kind, patient, understanding people out there. Marco was ready for however, the situation would turn out.”
As Autism Speaks points out, it’s not uncommon for people who are on the spectrum to find it difficult to get haircuts, since it often leads to sensory issues and/or anxiety over what will happen during the process.
For Brycen, the results of his haircut experience were best captured in a special picture: his first-day picture at public school.
Ashley told Yahoo, “This is a new start for Brycen, being at the public school. He has worked so hard to be in a bigger school and was so ready.”
Conti hopes that his experience with Brycen will give other parents who have kids with autism some hope.
As he explained, “This has opened doors for those parents that were silent and those that just didn’t know that we are more than willing to help.”
What an inspiringly kind story.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.