School picture day was approaching, and Brycen Juby’s hair was looking a little bit shaggy.
Brycen is 7 years old, and for the past few years his mother Ashley Juby had been cutting his hair at home. Brycen is on the autism spectrum, so he has a hard time with transitions and coping with everyday situations like this one. After haircuts became a traumatic experience for him, home haircuts became the family’s new normal.
“Brycen was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and a half years old, and shortly after he was diagnosed with apraxia of speech and was nonverbal until he was 5,” Ashley explained. Brycen entered public school for the first time this year, granting his family their first chance to get a professional school portrait taken. Ashley didn’t want to risk botching the haircut before picture day, so they called local salon Marky Fresh Barbershop in Mentor, Ohio to set up an appointment.
“She wanted to bring her son in during a non-busier time of the day, so it would be a little more easier on him,” said co-owner Marco Conti, who cut Brycen’s hair that day. Yet as soon as the boy entered the shop the adults could tell this wasn’t going to go as smoothly as they’d hoped.
“When Brycen and his dad came in, he felt super emotional, crying inside about to get his haircut,” Marco said. “I could tell he felt more comfortable outside so I was like right off the cuff, ‘What if we cut your hair outside? Would you feel more comfortable?’ He agreed. I just wanted to make him feel safe and comfortable.”
So Marco grabbed a chair and brought the boy out to the parking lot. There was something about the fresh air and open space that instantly calmed Brycen right down, allowing Marco to give him a fresh new cut for the big day.
“I really didn’t feel like it was such a big deal at the time,” Marco said. “I felt like anyone would do that. I just thought it was something that I had to do.”
Brycen and his family thought otherwise, remarking on Marco’s kindness for accommodating their son when he could have just refused service. After the barber shop shared the picture of Marco cutting Brycen’s hair online, the general public soon agreed that the shop deserves praise for their actions. The picture went viral and was especially treasured by other parents with kids on the spectrum.
“You never know someone else’s story,” Ashley reminds us. “If you see a little kid and he’s super upset, just be kind, be patient, be compassionate, and maybe ask if they need help. A little can go a long way.” Marco couldn’t agree more. “Be compassionate to one another,” he added. “Even the smallest act of kindness can mean the world to someone.”
Such wise words! People like Marco, who don’t judge others for acting outside of the “norm,” are true heroes in our society. He found a way to make his services inclusive for everyone, even a scared little boy. We should all do our best to help others in this way. It’s not our place to judge, but it is our place to help in any way we can.
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