A BARBER’S selfless gesture for a customer with autism is continuing two years after it captured the imagination of internet users worldwide.
Evan O’Dwyer’s anxiety had prevented him from leaving the car for a haircut during a tough day back in 2017. Nonetheless, barber Donncha O’Connell, from the Baldy Barber in Blackpool, was determined not to let him miss out and opted to carry out the appointment in the family vehicle instead. The teenager hasn’t needed to leave his car for an appointment since. His mum Deirdre said this has made huge improvements to his anxiety.
The now famous photograph of Evan having his hair cut in the car went viral two years ago and even appeared on CNN. It had initially been posted on Facebook as a means to publicly thank Donncha.
He and the Baldy Barber employee’s special friendship continues offline too.
“He’s been getting his hair done in the car for two years now,” Donncha said.
“I know how important it is to Deirdre that Evan feels calm and secure. You can see how much he means to both of his parents. His happy place is the car so I’m glad to be able to make life that bit easier for both of them. Routine is so important to Evan and if having his hair cut in the car each time makes him feel comfortable then we are more than willing to do that.”
He spoke of his admiration for Evan’s parents.
“When they come in here all they talk about is Evan. You can tell he means the world to them. Deirdre likes to seeing Evan well presented. She likes him to be cleanly shaven so it’s just as much for her as it is for Evan.”
Donncha would like to see more barbers adapt to cater for children and adults with special needs.
“People with special needs should be treated equally, if not better than everyone else. We need to be doing everything we can to make the lives of parents of kids with special needs easier. This is just 15 or 20 minutes out my day. Deirdre has to deal with the difficulties of autism 24/7.”
He fears that many businesses are favouring excessive health and safety policies over helping others.
“The Baldy Barber is a real old world barbers. We like to treat our customers well.”
Deirdre said that having a kind barber has made a huge difference in their lives.
“We never know what form Evan is going to be in and this can present extra challenges,” she said.
“He’s also non-verbal, making it difficult to express himself. Last Thursday we had a rough time with Evan but he is so relaxed with Donncha.”
“There are not many barbers that would get into the back of a car with someone with special needs. It just goes to show what a lovely person he is. Evan can have very challenging behaviour so these little things go a long way to making our lives easier.”