“Can I go?” asks Audrey, 5.
She is asking about going with her grandmother and aunt to the hair salon.
“We were like, ‘Of course!’” Audrey’s mom, Sarah, replies excitedly.
This is a BIG moment. Just over a year ago, the sound of a blow dryer was traumatizing for Audrey. And the thought of scissors near her? That might be reason enough to run and hide. Her sensory sensitivities made it impossible to get a haircut for Audrey’s first four years of life.
“She was terrified of it, so we couldn’t get her into a salon,” Sarah says. “She wouldn’t even let us trim her hair with scissors at the house.”
Audrey was diagnosed on the autism spectrum in April 2018. Even during her first haircut at age 4, it took two hours of patience. But just over a year later with occupational therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Outpatient Care, Sarasota, Audrey has become more connected with her body–and is able to overcome many of her fears.
“We would be so lost if we hadn’t met Mary Ann and Beth and had the support and the therapies with speech and occupational therapy,” Sarah explains.
Mary Ann Horan is a licensed occupational therapist and Beth Reckord, a speech pathologist, have been working closely with Audrey on a variety of therapies, including her sound sensitivity. Her recent salon visit proved she is indeed improving.
As her grandma gets her hair blow dried, Audrey sits in her lap. The salon day experience inspires Audrey to ask for a hair appointment of her own.
“We talked about our quiet bodies and all these things that I’ve learned from Mary Ann,” Sarah says. “We got her ready for it and she had a blast the entire time and whenever she felt overwhelmed, she would ask, ‘Can I have a break?’ And they would talk about like girl talk.”
Now Audrey’s beautiful blonde hair is a little shorter, Sarah’s smile is a little bigger and Audrey’s progress continues to grow. At last, it was a happy haircut.