Thursday, March 10, 2011

How a Hairdresser Can Talk With a Person With Autism for an Enjoyable Haircut

People with autism can be fascinating people, young and old. Cutting an autistic person's hair is an experience that requires a somewhat different communication style. Simple changes to your communication can make the haircut an enjoyable experience for both.

What is autism?

Autism can present itself with mild to severe symptoms in both children and adults. Symptoms can include:

  • Lack of eye contact or staring
  • Social difficulty
  • Some don't talk or talk excessively about an interest they have
  • Difficulty processing speech, yet many easily and quickly understand what they read
  • Thinking in pictures--literally
  • Some don't like being touched, especially light touch
  • Do not like their objects being touched
  • And many more features

What does this mean for the hairdresser then?

Learn an autistic communication style. This one style isn't the same for every autistic person, but there are commonalities. Try to avoid banter. It may be comfortable and seem quite normal to you. They even teach in beauty school that a part of getting and keeping customers is your personality, often by asking questions, listening, and interrupting. So, for you and almost all of your customers, the banter is friendly and a relaxing back and forth way of talking.

For many autistic people, it can make them feel uncomfortable, frustrated, or stressed. You can adapt by becoming a great listener. The back and forth of banter, could seem like you are interrupting.

Asking multiple questions can be stressful at times because a person with autism usually likes to give thought to an answer; so, many rapid-fire questions could feel like an interrogation. Since people with autism usually have a focused interest ask the person what his or her interests are.

Lastly, most people like to fill any moments of silence in a conversation, but with an autistic person you don't have to. They may feel more relaxed by the both of you being quiet.

Eileen Parker is the inventor of the Cozy Calm weighted blanket. She has autism and sensory processing disorder so she knows first-hand how her weighted blanket gives her a happy and restful sleep. Find her weighted blankets at Read her personal blog at

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