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'My son's barber is heaven sent' | Barber goes above and beyond for little boy with autism

Haircuts can be overwhelming for 6-year-old Jackson, who has autism. Ree, the barber, transformed a difficult day into a special game.

DULUTH, Ga. — Haircuts happen every day, but for some kids, it's not such an easy task.

One local barber went above and beyond for a little boy, and it has gone viral

"That day started all wrong," LaQuista Erinna told 11Alive. "We were running late, traffic was horrible."

When Erinna and her sons finally arrived at their appointment, it seemed like there was no way 6-year-old Jackson would be getting his hair cut.

"He just immediately freaked out," Erinna explained. 

Diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday, Erinna said Jackson is a typical little boy who loves to play and loves art. But some tasks can be sensory overload, and haircuts are one of them.

"He would just have a complete meltdown, to the point where I'm trying to hold him," Erinna said. "The barbers trying to, you know, cut his hair."

The stress was so intense for mom and son that almost two years went by before Jackson got another haircut. But this this time, he was in the hands of Ree, the barber, and things were getting easier until the other day.

"We forgot his headphones," Erinna said. "He didn't like the neck tape around his neck. He didn't want her to comb it and she's like, 'I got it.'"

Erinna watched as Ree took over, helping her overwhelmed son calm down by turning a haircut into a game inspired by Jackson's love of Super Mario Brothers.

"It just touched me so much," Erinna said. "She nurtured that relationship. She gained his trust."

Ree told 11Alive she's just proud that Jackson's mom trusts her with his care.

"I feel good I can go above and beyond for a child," Ree said. "I know children want to be free. They want to express themselves so I try to find a different strategy to make them feel comfortable."

Jackson's smile tells the rest of the story.

"We're like best friends now," Ree said with a laugh. 

Erinna was so moved by her son's haircut, she shared a video on TikTok and Instagram that's gotten millions of views. Given the overwhelming response, Erinna also set up a special GoFundMe to support Ree to make sure she's able to continue to work and replace any lost income from the impact of the pandemic.

"So many have asked how they can support her. I want to raise money so she can continue working with kids, especially those with special needs. We all know COVID really affected our barbers and beauticians. Please donate to show love to this angel on earth," Erinna said.