The mother of a five-year-old boy on the autism spectrum is pushing for sensitivity training to be required for hairstylists after she says Great Clips hair salon turned her son away because of his disorder.
Gloria Gonzales, of Brownstown Township, Michigan, says her son had a meltdown in the hair salon prior to the start of his haircut.
“He does have a very high pitched cry, and when he doesn’t want to do something, I do have to take him from a level 10 to a level 5 and then from a 5 to a 3,” Gloria says.
But rather than give Gloria some space to calm her son down, the hairstylist approached her and told her to leave.
“She didn’t let him sit down. She didn’t give him a chance to calm down. She just blatantly told me that she was not cutting his hair,” Gloria recalls.
That Great Clips location’s franchise manager has denied that the refusal had anything to do with the boy’s autism, saying instead that it was only his behavior that was an issue. What the manager may have failed to realize, however, is that an autism meltdown is not the same as “bad behavior” or a tantrum.
Gloria’s 5-year-old son has had his hair cut at that same Great Clips location twice before. She says they’ve always been able to work with him and his sensory sensitivities.
“A lot of times in the past with my other kids, because I do have three boys, I’ve sat in the chair and they’ve sat on my lap even. But this was a blatant ‘I will not cut his hair.’ No ifs, ands, or buts. This was a blatant, ‘no,’” Gloria says.
Now Gloria is pushing for Great Clips to require sensitivity training for all of their employees in locations across the country.
“My son is autistic, but he’s human, and people need to realize that he’s human. There [are] autistic people everywhere, and we have to have that patience and that grace and that training. I don’t want anything from Great Clips but training.”
The franchise owner, Arun Gupta, released this statement:
“I’m proud to welcome all customers into my salons. The event that recently took place in my Brownstown salon was an unfortunate instance of miscommunication. We’ve reached out to the family and would welcome the opportunity to have them in our salon again in the future.”
So far, there’s no word on whether Great Clips will be considering making any changes in response to Gloria’s request.Whizzco