We hear ads about Autism and Spectrum issues all the time, but unless you know someone with Autism, it is hard to completely comprehend what that means. It causes social issues, as acute as social awkwardness to things as severe as non-communication, hyper-focus and repetitive behaviors.
In a nutshell, Autistic children are highly intelligent, but what they experience is literally EVERYTHING. Their senses are so acute, that loud noises are unbearable, which lends many to plug their ears. They have very little awareness (if any awareness) of spacial issues, which means what you see as personal space is absent for many. Even the smallest of taps on the shoulder could be met with a loud, “Ouch”, which does not mean you did anything wrong, but their perception is completely skewed from yours.
There are so many more facets to Autism and different levels of functioning. I know, because my son is on the Spectrum and getting a haircut can be so frustrating to him with the sound and feel of the scissors to the little hairs falling as they are being cut. So this story is so special to me to know that there is someone who cared enough to meet this child where they were..
Franz Jakob is a Barber in Quebec, Ontario Canada, who owns Authentischen Barbier and he has been cutting hair since he was 12. While that is impressive, that isn’t what makes Franz extra special. Franz cuts hair for children with special needs and terminally ill children free of charge and he takes extra time to get to know the needs of the child to meet them where they are. In this case, Wyatt has always had problems getting his hair cut, as his mother explains,
“He doesn’t like his hair to be touched and a lot of sounds are aggressive for him,” she explained.
Wyatt was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2 and has had issues with numerous barbers cutting his hair. Many of which have asked to not have Wyatt return, but not with Mr. Jakob,
“I was nervous the first time,” Fauve Lafreniere (Wyatt’s Mother), 30, said of when she first went to Jakob’s vintage barbershop two years ago. “But now, I just feel blessed that we have Mr. Jakob in our life, in every way.”
Franz believes in taking the time that is needed with each child, so they look and feel like any other kid. There is no rushing them through,
“I’m trying to take care of all my clients. It’s in my nature to go the extra mile,” he said. “There’s no difference for me if I’m doing a popular singer or if I’m doing Wyatt. I’m doing what I need to do to… get a real nice haircut, honestly. That’s what it’s all about.”
This viral picture kind of gives an idea of the “extra mile” that Franz goes to
What is really cool is Mr. Jakob’s attitude. He totally gets it:
“I’m just being really, really, really patient because they are the drivers. I’m not the one driving those moments,” he explained.
Wyatt’s mother said it best:
“Anyone can make a difference with an open mind and love,” Fauve Lafreniere said of the experience.
If you want to get a better idea of what Autism Spectrum is, click here and learn more. It is much more common than you may think and appears at different levels with different children.
If you suspect or have a child with Autism Spectrum, there is help, click here for Autism Speaks. They can also use your help with donations, as they do wonderful research and education about this very prevalent issue.