Sometimes the smallest adaptation can make a huge difference for a person living with autism. That’s exactly what an Ohio barber learned firsthand when Brycen Juby came into his barbershop for a haircut.
“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,” Brycen’s mom, Ashley Juby, told TODAY Parents.
As a toddler, Brycen was able to get his haircut at “kiddie salons.” But the experience became too traumatizing for him when he turned about 3, so his parents opted to cut his hair at home.
Brycen, now 7, began his first year at public school this year. His parents thought it was time to try and return to a barbershop before his first school picture day.
“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,” Marco Conti, co-owner of Marky Fresh Barbershop in Mentor, Ohio, told TODAY Parents.
Conti set up a time to give Brycen his haircut on Oct. 12.
“When Brycen and his dad came in, he felt super emotional, crying inside about to get his haircut,” Conti 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.”
The outdoor approach made a huge difference for Brycen.
“I really didn’t feel like it was such a big deal at the time,” Conti said. “I felt like anyone would do that. I just thought it was something that I had to do.”
Conti’s co-worker took a photo of the outside haircut. After it was posted on social media, many people took to the comments section to explain how the simple deed of a business adapting to a person’s needs can have profound impact.
“As a Mama of a special needs child … thank you! Not many people who do these things,” one mother wrote.
Another added, “What a wonderful thing you are offering families. Thank you for thinking outside the box and helping others.”
“To have a company so willing to accommodate is such a relief on my end or my husband’s end,” Ashley Juby said. “It’s pretty fantastic. I found if you reach out, there are good people that are willing to help you.”
On what she hopes people take away from her son’s dapper new hairdo, Brycen’s mom added: “You never know someone else’s story. … 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.”