Meet the hairdresser 'changing lives' with custom cuts for autistic children
PUBLISHED: 07:30 21 January 2020 Holly Hume – East Anglian Daily Times
Twins Malakyi and Courtez Chudleigh are autistic and their mum Roxanne has spoken out about the difficulty of taking them to the hairdressers.
A simple haircut can be impossible for children with autism - parents are often left waiting months or years before their child can bear to have it done.
So now Kirsty Swain, a hairdresser from Great Waldingfield near Sudbury, is offering youngsters the chance to have their hair cut in a place which is comfortable for them.
Roxanne Chudleigh, a friend of Kirsty's who is looking forward to using her new service, is the mother of twin boys who have autism and said haircuts are the "most stressful thing about their lives".
"Autistic children like to know what is going on all of the time," she said.
"They want to be in control of the situation and when they're in the chair at the hairdresser they don't have control.
"They're being touched and they can see their hair disappearing - but worse than that they can't see what's going on with the back of their heads."
The 34-year-old, who lives in Ipswich, said there are several factors which can upset her sons, Malakyi and Courtez, including the bright lights and loud noises of a busy salon.
"My boys are very sensory and don't like anyone invading their private space," she added.
"They've been in the barbers and been kicking, biting, punching the whole lot."
Mobile hairdresser Kirsty was inspired by a barber's shop in America which started catering to autistic children. This month, she announced this new opportunity to her clients.
"I realised that nowhere in Suffolk really did anything like it, or the UK for that matter," the 40-year-old said.
"I was just swamped with messages and it's all happened so quickly, I had no idea I would get so much interest."
The mum completed her first job last week: "It was a lady local to Sudbury whose son is autistic and is a select mute.
"This means it's quite difficult to judge what to do, as you can't ask him to tell you what he wants, but his mum was so happy when it was done - it was down to his shoulders after 18 months of growth."
Kirsty is aware these jobs could take up a lot more time and that it could take weeks of visiting before a child is ready for her to cut their hair, adding: "You just have to take the time with some kids to build up that trust."