How to Make Your Hair Salon Autism-Friendly


Haircuts are a routine activity for many of us, typically occurring every one-to-two months. While similar standard appointments such as dentist check-ups may make us feel unpleasant, it is likely that you find going to the hairdresser a relaxing and positive experience.

However, this is not the case for everyone. People with autism can find haircuts distressing – sometimes to the point where the activity feels like an ordeal. 

Many autistic people have sensory issues which can make the scents, sounds, and bright lights of a salon an uncomfortable environment in which to be. They may also be uneasy with person-to-person contact, both direct touch and during the use of key equipment such as scissors.

Despite these challenges, there are several things you can do to make autistic clients feel safe and calm while getting a haircut. Read on for top tips on how to make your hair salon autism-friendly.

Offer pre-visits for autistic clients

Everyone feels anticipatory anxiety before certain new ventures, whether that be an unfamiliar journey or giving a presentation at work. Usually, this is grounded in a fear of the unknown. Offering your autistic clients the chance to visit the salon before their appointment allows them to familiarize themselves with the setting which should help to minimize appointment-day jitters.

Ensure a quiet atmosphere

Typically, someone with autism will feel more comfortable in a quiet atmosphere. Small but effective steps that you can take to create a quiet environment include turning down the volume of background music and booking the appointment for a time when there are few others in the salon. 

Allow extra time for the appointment

Haircuts with autistic clients are likely to take longer than usual appointments, especially initially. Make sure to allow plenty of extra time for the appointment so that it is peaceful from beginning to end.

Talk through the process

Similarly to the theory of a pre-visit, talking through the process with your autistic client before beginning the haircut will mitigate any fears of the unknown. Demonstrate the equipment you will use, from clippers and scissors to the hairdryer and hairbrush.

Consider the equipment you use

If you are able to, you could invest in special equipment such as calming clippers and professional hair dryers that operate more quietly than traditional models. The reduced noise will likely make the haircut much less unpleasant for your autistic clients.

Provide entertainment

From puzzles and magazines to toys, it might help to provide entertainment for the appointment. This can help to keep your client distracted during the haircut. You could even encourage clients to bring their own favorite fidget toys and puzzles from home.

Remember each client is unique

Lastly and most importantly, remember that each client is unique. Always ask what they need and aim to deliver that as far as possible to create a welcoming and tranquil mood for their haircut.

+ posts

Hey I'm Olivia and I'm a proud Autistic woman. My special interests are cats, stim toys, and electronic music! I love to write and help other Autistic adults find ways to enjoy life in this LOUD world!

What's your take?

Join The Ability Toolbox Community
We're a safe and supportive place for people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and mental health conditions.
No comments yet
The Ability Toolbox
Register New Account