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Barber goes the extra mile for boy with autism by cutting hair in teen's 'happy place': the car

He didn't hesitate to do whatever was needed to make his client feel comfortable.

Barber goes the extra mile for boy with autism by cutting hair in teen's 'happy place': the car
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Evan O Dwyer

The job of a hairstylist goes far beyond the scope of what's on top of one's head. Oftentimes, they also need to be ready to deal with whatever is going through a client's head when they are on the chair and be ready to fulfill the role of an impromptu therapist. As complicated as it sounds, some of us have personally experienced how helpful their attentive and compassionate ear can be. Evan O'Dwyer — a teen with nonverbal autism and sensory disorders — got a chance to experience this compassion when his hairdresser of 14 years went above and beyond to make him feel comfortable and safe.



According to Yahoo Beauty, O'Dwyer has been getting his hair cut by the same barber — a man named Donncha O’Connell at the Baldy Barber in Blackpool, Ireland — for nearly all his life. However, during a trip to the salon back in May 2017, things quickly began going south. "Evan is 16 and is nonverbal and severe on the autism spectrum," the teen's mom, Deirdre O’Dwyer, said at the time. "He [has been] going to Donncha for the last 14 years but had issues on Monday, so he wasn’t going to sit in the barber’s chair and was getting very anxious and agitated. The haircut had started, so we had to finish it."



This was when Donncha suggested moving the entire operation to the family's car as it was O'Dwyer's "happy place" and could therefore help him feel a bit more relaxed. "So Donncha suggested, 'Why not do the​ haircut there, and at least Evan would be more relaxed?'" Deirdre recounted. "And his big brother Dylan was helping by reassuring him and coaxing him." The O'Dwyer brothers and O'Dwyer thus climbed into the family car and set about finishing what the hairstylist had started.



"He had his haircut, and he was fine and happy," said Deirdre. Impressed by how well the hairstylist had handled her son's appointment, the grateful mother took to Facebook to get the word out. "It's great when you have a brilliant barber who totally understands autism and who will go to any lengths to make your child feel comfortable. Donncha O'Connell Snr has been cutting Evan's hair for the past 14 years but today Evan had other ideas and refused to stay in the chair so Donncha and his brother Dylan improvised and he cut his hair in the car. Fair play Donncha always making Evan feel at ease," she wrote.



The post quickly went viral online as netizens praised the hairdresser for the heartwarming manner in which he'd handled the teen. "If you love your job as a barber/hairdresser (as I do) … you will do whatever you have to do to make a client comfortable. If you have a client with special needs … anxiety … or any other disability, you will (I would) go out of my way to make them at ease. This is a super job. Well done," wrote Facebook user Karen Reilly.



"I never expected this, but I’m so happy it’s raising awareness," said Deirdre. "The reason I shared it was because our lives are challenging every day, and just that one kind and simple gesture made my little boy’s life so much easier, and we avoided a meltdown. We hear about horrible stories every day, and I just wanted to share that we have unsung heroes in our community. I never believed it would get this reaction, but with the [number] of parents who have contacted me to thank me for sharing and raising [awareness], I feel I’m doing a little to help others in our situation."

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