Autism-friendly salon opens in Heysham

A new hair and beauty salon has opened in Middleton which features a range of innovative sensory technology to suit people with autism and other additional needs.

Serene Sensory & Salon, on the Heysham peninsular, features a multi-sensory room, hydrotherapy pool and salon.

The sensory room features bubble tubes, fibre optic lighting, music and calming scents to provide relaxation and stimulation. Tactile items such as cushions and vibrating pillows and fidget toys are also provided. The sensory room user is in control at the touch of a switch and users must be supervised at all times.

The hydrotherapy pool is particularly beneficial for people with chronic pain and can also help with sensory difficulties such as sensory processing and cognitive learning that often accompany autism. Hired by the hour it is already proving popular with parties as it seats up to five people at one time and a hoist is available.

Davina Simm and her daughter, Jessica Pinwell, manage the hair salon while Claire Winder runs the beauty room which offers everything from eyebrow waxing to stress buster massages. A Sensory Parent and Toddler Group runs each week plus a number of special workshops and storytelling days run throughout the year.

Debbie, who has 20 years of experience working with clients who have ADHD, ASD, learning disabilities and sensory needs, said: "For those with autism and other special needs, a haircut can be very challenging. Whether there are difficulties with their touch system or sensory overload a traditional noisy hairdressing salon environment can be overwhelming. The sensation of scissors on the head or a stranger touching their hair may be unbearable. Sitting still for any length of time can also be difficult. We take everything very slowly and gently."

The new facility has opened on the tenth anniversary of the Autism Act passing in England which aims to improve the lives of autistic adults and their families.

Debbie added: “Much has been achieved over the last decade, but a recent study by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism and the National Autistic Society revealed that two thirds of autistic adults in England are living without the care and support they need to live full lives. Just eight per cent of autistic adults believe that health and care services in their area have improved.

“Serene Sensory & Salon is the only place of its type in this area that caters for all ages - not just children - and for those of all abilities. This includes people with conditions such as autism but also those with anxiety, epilepsy, dementia and other sensory conditions. What’s more, we are open year round, not just in school holidays."

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