Autism understanding tackled at Leamington kids’ salon

Marion Burns with hairdressers, Amy Gough and Lorna Braithwaite
Marion Burns with hairdressers, Amy Gough and Lorna Braithwaite
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A Leamington hairdressers is going the extra mile for autism and sensory needs in the town’s first child-friendly salon of its kind.

As it approaches a full year in businesses, Raspberry Kids and Teens hair salon has already transformed the haircut experience for hundreds of young people.

Marion Burns with Archie, aged three and a half

Marion Burns with Archie, aged three and a half

The shop in Augusta Place is complete with racing cars, X-boxes, Peppa Pig posters and YouTube - and the word cut is forbidden.

Owner, Marion Burns said it is all about creating a safe space for children - particularly those on the autism spectrum or with sensory or other issues affecting how they react to new or stressful situations.

The 55-year-old grandmother, said: “It is all about knowing what fears and sensitivities children have.

“It is all about understanding. We do not use clippers if a child might be traumatised by the noise, or for children with sensory issues we have scissors filed down to make less noise as they cut.”

We just use different techniques, we have the lights low and speak softly

Marion Burns

“There can be many things which trigger fear. That is one of the reasons we do not use the word cut.

“It brings a sense of danger and a lot of the children who come here are not able to sit in a barbers and have a hair cut as it is too traumatic.”

The small team now sees hundreds of children a week and have got to grips with cutting hair upside down or on the move and within 15 minutes - just some of the techniques championed by Marion.

“We just use different techniques, we have the lights low and speak softly,” she said.

The Raspberry salon

The Raspberry salon

“It is about working with the children and keeping them distracted.

“What is amazing is when a mother says their child has never been able to have a cut before because they scream, or are too scared.”

Hairdresser, Marion set the business up with friend, Kate Robinson 12 months ago in hope of bringing a sense of calm, and not traumatising children who may have fears of hairdressers - or who simply cannot sit still long enough for a trim.

She is trained in working with children on the autism spectrum and training hairdressers in new techniques.

Visit Raspberry Hair to find out more.