When it comes to children with autism, sometimes it's the simplest things that other parents take for granted that cause the most anxiety from them -- like haircuts for instance. So the last thing families of autistic children need is for insensitive people to make the experience even more traumatic than it already can be. Unfortunately, that's just what happened in a recent case in Portage, Michigan, that has set the Internet on fire -- and justifiably so.
While sadly these types of incidents happen more often than we'd like to think, this particular one was brought to light because Vanessa Hunt, 29, was at the MSpa Salon getting a manicure with a friend when she saw it happen to 2-year-old Grayson Bays and his mother, Ashley Bays. Hunt wrote a heartbreaking account of what she witnessed and posted it to Facebook.
She said that while the boy was crying, it wasn't bothering her or her friend. In fact, she said the music was louder than the boy. But all of a sudden, the owner, Michelle Mott, stormed in to give his mother "a severe tongue lashing," telling her "how inappropriate her son's behavior was." She said it was "seriously painful to watch," and she couldn't believe what she was witnessing. At the conclusion of the owner's tirade, Hunt said she heard Ashley say through tears, “I'm so sorry, he's autistic.” That didn't seem to matter at all to Mott.
After Hunt's Facebook post went viral, Bays told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette that she was saddened by the owner's reaction to her son:
I understand if she doesn’t want children in the salon, but she could have handled it a lot differently. She could have pulled us to the side. She was very insensitive that he does have special needs.
Exactly. It's not that children with autism should get a free pass to act out in public places, but there should be some level of compassion and understanding when it comes to children with special needs, and it doesn't appear that either was employed here.
Feeling more than unwelcome, Ashley then left with Grayson. The compassionate stylist followed them outside and finished cutting his hair on the lawn there. Thank goodness for her at least, but it's a heartbreaking image to think of this boy getting his hair cut outside the salon.
The salon hasn't apologized; instead they issued a statement that said it was "a situation which posed both an immediate, increasing safety concern to the child and a concern for other spa patrons." Based on Hunt's description, that's pretty hard to believe.
Since Hunt's post there's been a movement to boycott the salon -- nearly 10,000 people have liked a Facebook page calling for it. While that may address this one issue, more than anything I hope this incident helps bring about more awareness, more understanding, and a realization of the need for more compassion from businesses and all of us in general.
Do you think people should boycott the salon because of this incident?
Image via HLN