Hairdresser opens new autism room at South Shields salon after son's diagnosis

A hairdresser whose son was diagnosed with autism has opened a special sensory room for young children after her own son was diagnosed with the condition.

Hairdresser Sinead Clayton and son Jenson
Hairdresser Sinead Clayton and son Jenson

After her son was diagnosed with autism, Sinead Clayton realised how few facilities were available to help make everyday tasks easier for people with the condition.

Having opened her own salon, The Hairdresser on the Corner, in Stanhope Road, the 29-year-old decided to create a special room as a safe space for children with autism and children who find haircuts traumatising.

Sinead’s son Jenson was diagnosed with autism a week before his seventh birthday. Now aged nine, Sinead, and husband Johnathan, have seen firsthand how everyday things we think are simple have a serious impact on a child with autism.

Hairdresser Sinead Clayton with son Jenson, husband Johnathan and daughter Amelia.

Sinead, who lives in Biddick Hall, said: “Learning about autism myself really made me think there nothing out there supporting these children for something as simple as getting a haircut.

“I really thought this could be a great opportunity to do something to help.

“I think it’s good for a child and the family to have someone who understands that it is a hard thing for a child with autism – I’ve experienced it myself.

“The response has been unbelievable. I’ve had so much support from South Shields and from people and organisations further afield.”

Hairdresser Sinead Clayton and son Jenson, in the room she has created at her Stanhope Road salon.

Sinead, who works at the salon with apprentice Lauren Jenkyns, says the response to the room has been really positive and shows it is something that is desperately needed.

The new room is separate from the salon, which opened a year ago, and filled with sensory equipment and toys for children to enjoy while Sinead she can follow the child around to cut their hair.

She also has ‘silent clippers’ which are a lot quieter than ordinary equipment.

“I always tell parents don’t come in expecting a hair cut,” said Sinead, who is also mum to Amelia, six.

Hairdressers Sinead Clayton and Lauren Jenkyns.

“I tell them to keep bringing their child into the room so they can get use to it and get to know me.

“When they feel comfortable we can start to try and cut their hair – if we don’t get it finished we can try again another time.”

Sinead and son Jenson show off the new room