'She cut his hair while he moved and ran around the shop. His smile at the end was priceless,' the grateful mom wrote.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 1, 2022. It has since been updated.
A kind and patient barber from Atlanta is being praised on social media after one grateful mom shared a video of how her six-year-old son, who has autism, was smiling from ear to ear after his haircut. Praising how Sheree Bethea—known in her community as "Ree the Barber"—turned the haircut into a game when young Jackson had an "epic meltdown" at the store, Dr. LaQuista Erinna wrote: "When your kid is on the spectrum, people don't want to be bothered. [Ree has] always been so patient and kind to Jack-Jack."
"I usually have to do some coaching to get him in the chair. He will put on his headphones, and we power through. Yesterday he forgot his headphones, and it went downhill fast. He refused to sit in the chair and just lost it," she continued. "Ree noticed his Super Mario bro hoodie (he's low-key obsessed) and told him that he needed to save Mario by making sure no hair gets on him. She cut his hair while he moved and ran around the shop. His smile at the end was priceless." The video—titled "My son's barber is heaven-sent"—has been viewed thousands of times across social media platforms since being uploaded.
Speaking to Good Morning America about coming up with a game to make Jackson feel comfortable, Ree said: "The reason why we were running was because the Mario on the chair was going to come attack us if we didn't run. I'm thinking if he's running, if he's moving, he's not going to pay attention to me cutting his hair. I was trying to distract him." Meanwhile, Erinna revealed that she became emotional watching the heartwarming interaction between her son and Ree. "Something just told me to pick up my phone because I started getting choked up. I was like, 'She's really going the extra mile to make sure Jackson's looking good,'" she said.
"When you find someone who is just a breath of fresh air and accommodating, it really touches your heart. Ree is a gem," Erinna added. The doting mom described her son—who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder just before his third birthday—as a playful, energetic and artistic child. She revealed that young Jackson is often judged by others who do not understand the behaviors of living with autism. This was why Ree's kindness meant so much to her. Erinna revealed that she stopped taking Jackson to get haircuts in traditional barbershops for more than a year because he gets overstimulated by the sounds of clippers and loud voices.
"We've gone to barber shops before where, you know, we, in so many words, been told not to come back. And that's fine because I don't want anyone to service my child who doesn't have the patience and the kindness to treat him with dignity and respect," she said. Erinna's oldest son, 16-year-old Jordan, also gets his hair cut by Ree, who operates her studio in Duluth, Georgia. Young Jackson often tags along with his older brother to watch the process. "We all deserve to be treated equally, we're all one," Ree said. "I'm gonna give you my all. If I'm not giving you my all, we're not done, it's not complete."
Following the incredible response to her video, Erinna has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to support Ree. "I want to raise money so she can continue working with kids, especially those with special needs. We all know COVID really affected our barbers and beauticians. Please donate to show love to this angel on earth," she wrote. Meanwhile, Jackson and his mom are looking forward to getting another haircut from Ree soon. "She was kind to him, she nurtured that relationship. She always showed him the same level of respect and kindness and he started to trust her," said Erinna. "I feel like we hit the lottery."