For kids with disabilities, something as seemingly simple as a haircut can provoke all kinds of anxiety — not just for the kids, but their families too.
So when you come across a barber with the understanding and patience to make the experience not only tolerable but enjoyable? That has to be captured on video.
In a now-viral TikTok, Vernon Jackson gives 7-year-old Ellison Eubanks, who has Down syndrome, a haircut that not only puts a smile on Ellison’s face but on the faces of nearly 3 million people who’ve viewed it.
“Every child is different and I need to be present with them and meet them in the moment,” Jackson tells TODAY.com of the hilarious “stop ..... go” routine Ellison came up with and Jackson gladly went along with.
That said, there are a few things his clients with disabilities seem to have in common, Jackson says. In particular, the noise of the clippers and the sensation of hair falling on their skin can be troublesome. “One child told me it feels like needles,” he says.
Ellison’s mom, Julie Eubanks, says that prior to coming to Jackson’s Noble Barber and Beauty salon in Cincinnati, Ohio, haircuts for Ellison “were pretty much the opposite of what you see in the video.”
“It’s always been really stressful,” she tells TODAY.com. “A lot of time I’d have to bear hug him in the chair to get through it. We got clippers and tried to do it at home.”
Ellison isn’t the only kid who has benefitted from Jackson’s work. Jackson takes one of his days off each month to dedicate to giving kids with disabilities free haircuts. It’s called The Gifted Event, and Jackson says he takes the time and makes the accommodations each child needs.
“I’m so blessed to be in a position to relieve that stress and anxiety for them,” Jackson says of the experience for both kids and their parents. “It’s a haircut — it shouldn’t have to be traumatic.”