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Hairdresser creates sensory space for autistic children

PUBLISHED: 09:41 10 January 2019

Caroline Parnis pictured with Oliver, 6, after a haircut at her barber in Lowestoft. Picture. Blade

Caroline Parnis pictured with Oliver, 6, after a haircut at her barber in Lowestoft. Picture. Blade

Archant

Getting a child in to a barber's chair isn't always the easiest thing to do.

And when the child has autism, hairdressers need to be even more sensitive.

But a Lowestoft salon is offering a solution by putting on an autism friendly service.

Oliver and his mother travel from Sudbury for more than an hour to get his hair cut at Blade in St Peter’s Street.

The six-year-old has severe autism and would struggle to set foot in a hairdresser because he found it too distressing.

Caroline Parnis is well-known for cutting children’s hair with care and precision at Blade in Lowestoft.Caroline Parnis is well-known for cutting children’s hair with care and precision at Blade in Lowestoft.

His mother Lisa Cudd, 39, said before having his hair cut at Blade, he couldn’t let anyone near his face.

Since then, she has watched her son transform.

“I can’t even tell you how much he has changed, she works with Oliver to make sure it is at his pace.

“I take my hat off to her, in the activism world a lot of people say they are going to do stuff and actually don’t but she did,” Mrs Cudd said.

Mrs Parnis registered as an autism friendly barber with the Autism Barbers Assemble.Mrs Parnis registered as an autism friendly barber with the Autism Barbers Assemble.

Business owner, Caroline Parnis is well-known for cutting children’s hair with care and precision.

The 46-year-old had a handful of regulars who were autistic and was urged to make her store welcoming.

She decided to register as an autism friendly barber with the Autism Barbers Assemble.

The Lowestoft mother-of-three has installed sensory lighting, a blue tooth television, as well as tactile toys and a bean bag to make the experience more tolerable.

She moves with the children if they resist and sits with them on the floor if they feel more comfortable having their hair cut there.

“I have come across the sensory side of things - the sound of the scissors, the sound of the razors and some children prefer sitting on the floor because they like to feel grounded,” she said.

“It is not about the hair cut, it is about the time and the effort you put in,” Mrs Parnis said.

“To get that hug, that kiss and that high-five - for them it is such a big thing,” she added, “It is amazing and I am often in tears. Parents just want their children to experience nice things.”

Mrs Parnis has plans to expand her business for children and adults living in or on the spectrum.

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