As many as 1 in 68 children in the United States have autism, which is a genetic neurological disorder that begins to appear by the age of three years old. Children and adults with autism have trouble speaking, interacting, and showing affection with others. Learning new things can also be a difficult task.
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Thankfully, because of the tireless work of parents and advocates over the last fifty to sixty years, autism has gained more public awareness. Raising awareness is so important not only because it means more resources will be invested in researching the subject, but also because it helps people who do not have autism understand the need to communicate differently with children and adults who do have autism.
It can be hard to find people who have this type of patience for someone who is “different” from themselves. Anyone who go out of their way to show kindness to someone with autism should be celebrated and praised.
Recently, a mother named Deirdre O Dwyer who lives in Cork, Ireland shared an amazing story of the family barber and her son Evan.
Evan is 16 and has autism. He is completely non-verbal and is very sensitive to his surroundings.
Usually, Deirdre has to take care of tasks like brushing Evan’s teeth and cutting his nails while Evan is sleeping because he does not like being touched. However, the family has been going to the same barber for the last decade or so and Evan is usually alright with Donncha O Connell, the barber, cutting his hair.
However, on one particular day, Evan was more agitated and upset than normal. As soon as Donncha turned on the clippers, Evan jumped out of the barber’s chair and only sat back down again after some guiding and help from his brother, Dylan.
“I could see Evan was getting anxious and agitated, so I knew to avoid a meltdown the best thing to do was to get him in the car,” Deirdre told Metro.
The family’s car is a safe place for Evan that always helps to calm him down when the outside world is getting to be too much for him to handle.
But Donncha decided that he couldn’t leave Evan with only half of his hair cut. Instead of letting the family leave, Donncha did an extremely kind thing and gathered up all of his barber tools and headed out the door after him.
Climbing in to the car with Evan’s brother Dylan there to help, Donncha finished up Evan’s hair cut without anymore reactions from Evan. In fact, at the end, Evan even had a smile on his face and was perfectly at ease!
“It’s great when you have a brilliant barber and who totally understands autism and who will go to any lengths to make your child feel comfortable,” Deirdre wrote on her Facebook post that has now gone viral.
Deirdre’s sincere hope is that Evan and Donncha’s story will help to make all parents of children with autism feel less alone.
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