This Salon For People With Autism Brings New Meaning to Inclusivity
He described an experience he had with one of his 10-year-old clients. "[He'd] been coming in for haircuts for at least seven years, and when he first started coming in, his mother didn't know how to [work] with him," he said to POPSUGAR, "His sense of touch was magnified. So in a way, [the haircut] was painful, and there was a lot of noise around."
Autism spectrum disorder, according to nonprofit organization Autism Speaks, "refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication." To address the discomfort those with autism may have while getting a haircut, Iskhakov transformed his barber shop into a friendly, sensory-inclusive space. He partnered with nonprofit organization Kulture City to make his salon more accessible for customers with special needs. The organization provided Barber's Blueprint with training sessions and sensory bags, which include headphones, fidget toys, and place cards to help younger customers with autism communicate their emotions and help them stay calm.
Equipped with these tools, Barber's Blueprint has also employed different techniques to make customers with autism feel more comfortable. "You can't use razors on the skin," Iskhakov said, "[They] might be too sensitive [to the touch]." He also mentioned that the team skips blow dryers because of how noisy they could be and uses a special set of buzzers that are quieter. Read on to learn more about the salon that is making small changes for a greater cause, and bringing new meaning to inclusivity.