A hairdresser's act of kindness highlights why it's important to meet kids with autism on their level.
Kindness can go a long way—especially when it comes to helping kids feel comfortable in new situations. This is especially true when a child has autism. Sometimes even just leaving the house can present challenges for my autistic son, as he tries to balance intense sensory input with his anxiety and communication needs. With his struggles in mind, I was quite touched by a story of unexpected kindness that's going viral right now.
Last week, West Virginia mom Jennifer McCafferty posted on Facebook about the kindness of a Sports Clips hair stylist who adapted normal hair cutting procedures to make McCafferty's 4-year-old son Isaiah, who's on the spectrum, more comfortable. Kaylen—the hair stylist—cut Isaiah's hair while sitting on the floor with him in her lap. This eased some of his anxiety and nearly brought McCafferty to tears.
As she wrote on Facebook: "This woman, Kaylen, at Sports Clips in Charleston did more for my heart than she will probably ever realize. Haircuts with Isaiah are no small feat. He hates having anything near his ears, the sound of clippers sends him in to a tailspin...this evening was no different. I was ready to give up, but she wasn't. She sat on the floor with my baby in her lap, and she cut his hair. They talked about Dory and Christmas, and she even let him spray her with her water bottle. Autism can be so very, very hard, but people like this make our days just a little easier."
- Want the latest parenting news? Sign up for our Parents Daily newsletter
What a beautiful moment of kindness and connection between Kaylen and Isaiah! The amount of coverage this story is getting really shows how much #kindnessmatters, and it's a good reminder that when it comes to kids with special needs, we shouldn't just be content with the typical ways of doing things. A small adaptation like this one can make a huge difference in a child's life. And small kindnesses—when shared, emulated, and repeated—can have a tremendously positive impact on kids with special needs all over the world.
Jamie Pacton lives near Lake Michigan, where she drinks loads of coffee, dreams of sailing, and enjoys each day with her husband and two sons. Find her at www.jamiepacton.com.