When John and his family chose Springbrook’s Golisano Center for Autism in 2017, it had been years since John’s last haircut. He found the process to be extremely aversive. The close proximity of the hairdresser—paired with the inevitable sounds and sensations that come with getting a haircut—were extremely upsetting to John.  Since long hair did not pose any risk to his health or safety, John’s family had decided to focus their energy on other aspects of his life. At Springbrook, his teacher, advocates, and behavior specialists worked together to create a reward-based, multi-phase plan to help him face and overcome this challenge in his life.

When John first came to Springbrook in 2017 his hair was so long that it covered his eyes.

John, his teacher, and his behavior specialist chose Great Reflections Family Salon in Oneonta, New York for his haircuts. The salon is conveniently located directly across the road from Springbrook’s Main Campus where John lives and attends school.

Donna Gaige, owner and operator of the salon, happily invited John to visit several times before he sat down in her stylist’s chair. When John was ready, Donna cut his hair.

Now John looks forward to going to get his hair cut! He greets Donna with a quick wave and a smile, then makes himself comfortable in the salon’s waiting area while he waits for his turn.

The shock of cold hands on your neck can be extremely unpleasant! In order to help John feel comfortable, Donna warms her hands with a hairdryer before she begins to cut his hair.

After years of avoiding the barber’s chair, it appears that John might actually enjoy some parts of getting his hair cut. John smiled and voiced his approval as Donna combed his hair.

John loves Skittles! Throughout the haircut, Skittles are used to reinforce John’s positive behavior. These help John to cope with the more irritating aspects of the process.

Donna takes time to make sure that John is comfortable. It is plain to see that he feels at ease.

John always looks great after Donna cuts his hair!

John pays Donna for her services, and also makes sure to leave her a tip. After John gets his receipt, he says goodbye to Donna until next time.

While John’s story is uniquely his own, it is not the only story of its kind at Springbrook. The people we support work hard every day to improve the quality of their lives, and we are proud to be a part of every single moment, both large and small.

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