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Last updated: December 30, 2019

Autism Awareness: How To Bring #SensorySunday To Your Salon!

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Photo Courtesy of Leo Wolters Tejera.
What Is #SensorySunday?
Your salon is a safe space for many—why not make it even more inclusive this year? #SensorySunday is a salon experience that caters to clients with autism developed by PRAVANA Artistic Educators Leo Wolters Tejera (@leowthair) and Elle Tejera (@ellewthair). The idea came about from their own personal experience with their child Kiki, who has autism and would “definitely not have been getting their haircut if it wasn’t for us being knowledgeable stylists,” shared Leo.
For people dealing with autism and other neurodivergent disorders, new social environments, loud noises and lots of activity can be highly uncomfortable for them. #SensorySunday was designed to remove or reduce those concerns to create a more comfortable space. Leo and Elle host the event in their salon, WT Hair in Olean, NY, where guests of all ages can receive one-on-one services tailored to their specific needs. The youngest guest has been one-year-old and the oldest in their 50s!
Photo Courtesy of Leo Wolters Tejera.
How The #SensorySunday Program Caters To Autistic Clients
The couple finds that providing one-on-one services allows them to focus on the guest and their needs as well as accompanying family members and caretakers. Guests not only have the opportunity to enjoy a pleasant experience in the chair, but it’s also an opportunity for parents and caretakers to have a worry-free environment that brings the community closer together.
“Elle is a veteran hairstylist in our town, which gave us professional credibility [when starting #SensorySunday],” says Leo. “Additionally, as the parents of a non-neuro typical kid, we can say to the parents, partners and caretakers that come in with utmost integrity, ‘We understand.’ That common ground has slowly built a trust up between ourselves and our families to the point where they no longer have to hold their breath when their loved one struggles in the chair. We can say to them, ‘It’s OK. You are safe. No one is judging you here.'”
PRAVANA Artistic Educator Elle Tejera. Photo Courtesy of Leo Wolters Tejera.
“Time and time again in my career and then as a parent, I encountered huge geographic barriers to getting the services my child needed,” says Leo. “I realized that we were uniquely positioned to help a population that is frequently misunderstood and underserved. As a team we realized that we had the ability to give neurodivergent folks the dignity and socialization that they deserve by creating a space for them in the #wthairfam.”
PRAVANA Artistic Educator Leo Wolters Tejera. Photo Courtesy of Leo Wolters Tejera.
Let’s Get Started! Here’s A Few Tips For Adding #SensorySunday To Your Salon.
1. Pick a day or time that you want to invite guests in for services. 
2. Contact agencies and organizations in your area that serve individuals who could benefit from #SensorySunday.
3. Make promotional material for social media. Make sure you share it with the agencies and organizations in your area.
4. Schedule appointments to allow one-on-one interactions with your new guests. Allow for enough time to connect with the guests before you begin services. Gently ask if guests have a preference for how their appointment proceeds. For example, ask them if they prefer clippers or shears, shampoo or no shampoo, background music or silence and anything else that would tailor the experience to the guest. 
5. Engage with parents, partners and caretakers that may come with your guests to make it a more inclusive experience.
For more information, DM Leo Wolters Tejera and Elle Tejera.

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