While many children enjoy a visit to the hair salon, some kids face significant challenges. Children with autism are often hypersensitive to their surroundings, and even a basic haircut can easily become very difficult to cope with. The good news is that hair salon managers can take steps to create an environment that caters for these special needs. Learn more about changes you can make in your salon to help children with autism cope with a haircut.
Add a welcome zone
Many children with autism find it difficult to adjust to unusual surroundings. As such, the conventional idea of a waiting area won't help them prepare for their cut. Instead, you can transform your waiting area into a welcome zone.
Ideally, you should appeal to as many of the child's senses as possible. Use music, colour, texture, toys and bright images to bring the salon to life, and encourage parents to allow time for their kids to play here before an appointment. This type of welcome zone helps kids with autism adjust to the unusual environment and makes your salon an interesting, stimulating place to spend time in.
Continue the theme throughout the salon
This sense-stimulating approach should continue to the salon chair. Choose bright colours and interesting shapes that appeal to children. Many children will react nervously to the idea of washing their hair in the sink, so look for ways to make the experience exciting. For example, a sink that resembles a large frog's mouth with bright, friendly eyes is more likely to reassure than plain porcelain.
Expand this theme throughout the salon. If you have a toilet, make sure the door is bright and colourful. Exchange small, plain handles for accessories that are large and tactile. Use colourful mats on the floor, and even equip your stylists with bright brushes and cleaning equipment.
Think about wheelchairs
Some children with autism may also need to use a wheelchair, so it's important to offer plenty of room to move around in your salon. If you cannot get rid of steps, put in a ramp, or allow space for a wheelchair in a part of a salon that's on ground level. Make sure your toilet is wheelchair-friendly too.
Children with autism will often find it hard to concentrate (and stay still) for long periods, so it's a good idea to introduce fun distractions that allow your stylists to work. For example, you could add a DVD library to the salon, so kids can choose their favourite films and cartoons to watch while your stylist cuts their hair. Similarly, sweet treats and lollies are also likely to go down well at intervals during the process.
Parents of children with autism are particularly keen to find salons that can cater for their kids' special needs. If you want to support these customers, contact a local support group or salon equipment suppliers, like Elasta Hairdressing Suppliers, for more ideas and advice about how to set up your salon.