First trip to a barbershop


February 12, 2011


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Hair salons have long been something we’ve avoided like the plague. In years past, Ben’s had some truly awful experiences at them, as (when he was much younger) the sound and sensation of hair clippers buzzing over his head would overstimulate him and drive him nuts, and attempts as he got older typically ended in me dragging a screaming kid out because all he wanted to do was flush the toilets. It was all just too much for him, and even the salons advertising as “child focused” were just too full of activity and over-stimulation for the poor kid.

So for the past year or two, Ben’s had his hair cut at home, with clippers in the bathroom. It’s done the job, but as you can imagine, you get what you pay for – it’s really been more “shearing” than stylish “hair cutting.” I decided it was time to try venturing out again to get him a proper hair cut, so I hit Yelp to search out nearby barbershops (assuming they’d be faster, a bit more low-key, and would be able to buzz him with clippers rather than try to get fancy with a comb & scissors.)

I quickly found Cecil’s Barbershop and the reviews on Yelp looked positive, so I called at 9am on Saturday and asked if I could bring my two boys in for a cut at 10:00am. Appointment set, I let Ben know where we were going and right away he started obsessing on whether or not he’d be able to go to the bathroom there. He got pretty anxious for 5-10 minutes, which started to make me very nervous and wonder if I’d made the wrong decision to try this. I sat down and wrote out a social story for him (which is simply a series of simple lines about what we were going to do – i.e. “I am going to the barbershop. I will get my hair cut first. After my hair cut, I can use the bathroom 1 time. I will listen and not yell or cry.”)

We got to Cecil’s just before 10am – turns out it’s a converted house in Citrus Heights, which made me feel much more comfortable, as it’s far more low-key than a salon, and infinitely less chaotic than a child-focused hair place. Cecil (the proprietor) said his son Evan could take Ben right away, so Ben went in, sat down, and Evan got ready to go to work. First thing Ben told him was “no scissors” (not sure why – scared of being hurt? cut? – but Evan said, “No problem – clippers only.”) I told Evan that Ben was on the Autism spectrum (figuring I should be proactive in case of things going bad), and without even batting an eye, Evan replied, “No problem – I have the quietest clippers in the world.” That instantly set my mind at ease, as you never really know how someone is going to handle the mention of ASD, especially at a low-key barbershop that probably doesn’t see too many kids on the spectrum walk through their doors.

The haircut went so well – Ben was calm, quiet and even a bit chatty with Evan. I was so incredibly proud – all of my initial fears and anxiety disappeared, Ben did great and ended up with a really sharp looking ‘do. Cecil’s Barbershop will now be part of our regular rotation and I’ll be bringing the boys there monthly going forward.

Here’s to my boy Ben – so, so proud.

Addendum: in all my excitement, I forgot to mention that the bathroom was NOT a problem @ Cecil’s for Benjo — I think the fact that it was set up like a house (with a “regular” bathroom) and that there wasn’t the usual hustle & bustle we find at most public places (stores, restaurants, larger hair salons) helped to set his overactive mind at ease. He went to the bathroom one time after his hair cut and then sat and waited patiently while his brother got his hair cut. Pretty amazing, and yet another reason why we’ll be back to Cecil’s for haircuts going forward.

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