San Dieguito Academy

The truth about autism: How one barber went above and beyond

Franz Jakob, the owner and barber of Authentischen Barbier in Quebec, Canada has been cutting hair for over 30 years.

He started cutting hair when his mom asked him to give his younger brother a trim. During high school, Jakob did cuts for his classmates at a DJ booth that he ran.

He commented that “our barbershop is unique. We are keeping things in an old school fashion and we are serious when we set up. We have the bad reputation here of being unique and that is why we are always full.”

Jakob successfully runs his barber shop and brings in various types of customers, including customers with special needs. He does free haircuts for clients who have special needs or are ill.

He often makes these haircuts the last of the day so that he can “take all the time needed.” A few weeks ago, Jakob did another amazing act of kindness to a child with autism, which was caught on camera.

Photo By Franz Jakob

Wyatt, a 6-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, has had many troubles going to get haircuts because of his sensitivity to noises and being touched. So, when Fauve Lafreniere, Wyatt’s mother, heard about Jakob and his vintage barber shop, she gave it a try.

She stated, “I was nervous the first time. But now, I just feel blessed that we have Mr. Jakob in our life, in every way.”

When I asked Jakob about what made him do this act of kindness, he explained that absolutely nothing made him.

He said, “With kids, I am a passenger, never a driver. There is no structure. I’m just playing with the kids while I’m cutting their hair. That’s it. It takes me around 75 minutes. We walk around the shop looking at all the memorabilia on the walls, make a few spins on the chair, enjoying some candies together and playing some records. Think about this as a playground for a rad haircut.”

Photo By Franz Jakob

When Jakob saw all of this media attention, he couldn’t believe it.

“For Wyatt and I, chilling on the floor while I’m cutting is normal. I was at the shop and I received a message asking me to go see on Reddit and I found out there was half a million viewers,” he said.

When asked to give advice for parents who have children on the spectrum regarding haircuts, Jakob said, “Definitely having a chat with the barber before sitting anyone on the chair. First, kids have to wish having their hair cut. After making things clear with the barber about your [child’s] condition, respect [their] decision. Remember it’s always a challenge doing an Autistic kid.”

Similarly, when I asked him to give advice to barbers, he said that they need “patience, compassion, scissors, and a load of candy! But if you don’t feel it, don’t do it.”

When I asked Jakob if he wanted to mention anything else, he told me something truly inspiring.

He said, “Seeing this picture being everywhere and creating this world-wide hype about Wyatt and I and receiving all those thousands of messages from around the world gave me a unique experience: pure love from the entire planet at the same time. People who had been deeply touched.”

He continued with, “I cannot finish this interview without saying that this has been a life changing experience [to] feel all that love and to appear like a sunbeam in these dark times.”

This article was written by Ethan Hirschberg, a teenager with high functioning autism. Ethan is the founder/blogger of The Journey Through Autism, a blog where he shares his personal experiences, insight and advice to individuals on the spectrum, parents, caregivers, educators, and providers. Check out his blog by clicking here!