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Barber creates safe environment for kids with sensory disorders to get haircuts

sensory friendly barber shops
Billy Dinnerstein/@yourkindofcuts

A first haircut is something many parents celebrate (or maybe grieve), and any haircut after that usually just becomes part of the family’s routine. But for kids, and even adults, with sensory disorders or other neurodivergent traits, a regular haircut can feel like torture. That’s where Billy Dinnerstein comes in.

The Nutley, New Jersey barber is the owner of Your Kind of Cuts, a “sensory friendly, special needs haircut experience for all.”

Good Morning America recently shared a mesmerizing reel on Instagram that shows Dinnerstein’s effective process. The 53-year-old barber doesn’t know what to expect until the client is in his chair, but even though he doesn’t follow a “blueprint,” he always manages to stay calm and collected no matter how hostile the situation becomes. The reel shows him deploying every strategy from pep talks to allowing the child to be part of the process, but no matter what tactic he uses, it’s clear he’s a calming presence both for the children and their parents.

Over the summer, Today.com interviewed Dinnerstein after a video of him cutting a 4-year-old’s hair went viral on TikTok.

“I don’t know what I’m dealing with until they walk through the door,” he noted. “Sometimes it’s the parents squeezing the kid’s hands, sometimes it’s the kid squeezing the parents’.”

“A lot of the time, the tension is being resonated from the parents and rightfully so,” Dinnerstein added. “Here they are, walking into another barber shop with a promise of somebody helping their (child), and in the past that didn’t work out, so the stress level is very high.”

Your Kind of Cuts is a wonderful idea, but unfortunately there aren’t many shops like it. “We need this service. I didn’t realize how much we needed it until I was involved in it,” Dinnerstein admitted. “It’s a little overwhelming, to me, to find out that I have people coming from multiple states away or rebooking flights to stay here because they don’t have anybody comparable in their own state who can do this.”

Neurodivergent children deserve to feel comfortable and supported in activities most people take for granted, and Your Kind of Cuts proves that there’s a need for these resources that don’t exist in the capacity they should for special needs families.

“It’s not easy for the parents who have to go through this every day with their kid,” Jahod Carson, whose son is the star of Dinnerstein’s viral video, told Today.com. “We need more resources, we need more help—so does every other kid and parent of a kid with autism.”