Mid and East Antrim’s Community Planning Partnership is calling on hairdressers and barbers across the borough to sign up for the free Autism awareness training, aimed at ensuring what can be a daunting experience for individuals with autism is as comfortable, enjoyable and inclusive as possible.

The campaign, supported by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in partnership with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT), forms part of Council’s strategy to make Mid and East Antrim more autism friendly and aware.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Councillor William McCaughey said: “For most people, a visit to the hairdressers is an enjoyable part of everyday life, often considered a treat or a ‘pick me up’.

“For those living with autism, though, it can be a traumatic experience – particularly for children and young people who are non-verbal. A trip to the hairdressers or barbers can be scary due to sensory processing and struggles with ‘chit chat’, and the associated level and nature of social interaction.

“Hairdressers and barbers are right at the heart of our local communities, and, through this bespoke training, we hope they will find themselves better equipped to provide the best-possible support and experience to customers living with autism.”

The Mayor continued: “Individuals living with autism should expect and deserve to be understood, accepted and supported across all areas of life. As a society, we need to be more inclusive and accepting of neurodiversity and Council is fully committed to doing everything we can do encourage this is Mid and East Antrim.”

Jayne Colville, ASD Service Improvement Coordinator, NHSCT commented: “In becoming more aware and making small practical adjustments to their services, hairdressers and barbers will be able to better support the autism community throughout the area.

“This will not only benefit individuals living with autism themselves, but also their families and carers, improving the overall experience for everyone. We look forward to continuing to expand the autism awareness and accessibility across more sectors in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.”

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