A barber with a big heart has become a hero of sorts after a photo of him lying on the floor to cut an autistic boy’s hair sparked an outpouring of good will on the Internet.
“The power of that one photo is amazing,” hair stylist James Williams told INSIDE EDITION. “It hasn’t stopped all day.”
Williams was deluged by phone calls Friday after the photograph went viral.
To Williams, it wasn’t a big deal. “If you genuinely love what you do, that’s just what you do for people,” he said by phone from his home in Wales.
What he did was meet with 4-year-old Mason Lewis every two weeks, “just to get him used to the place and to get him used to me,” the 26-year-old hairdresser said.
Mason had not had a proper haircut in more than two years, his mother, Denine Davies told IE.
Any change in the boy’s routine upsets and overwhelms him, she said. Davies went to Williams because she had seen a Facebook post about how the stylist had cut the hair of another little boy with autism.
For two months, Mason’s parents took him to Williams’ salon, but never got his hair cut. Rather, they let Mason wander around the place on his own, and in his own time, until the newness wore off.
And finally, earlier this week, Williams was able to do what he had been working toward all along — giving Mason a haircut.
He had to get down on the floor to do it, but he got the job done.
“I just followed him around the shop,” Williams said. “There’s no point in trying to make him do something he doesn’t want to do.”
Autistic children are often extremely sensitive to noise. Mason wouldn’t let Williams get anywhere near his ears.
Williams asked everyone in the salon to be quiet as he patiently trailed the little boy, taking a snip here, and snip there, until Mason took his dad’s cell phone and sprawled out on the floor.
“He laid on the floor with the phone and I laid there with him” said Williams, who has been cutting hair since he was 16.
The barber even managed to snip around Mason’s ears and the back of his neck.
“Everyone in the shop was watching,” he said.
Mason’s mother said “We were all holding our breath waiting to see what happened.”
Her boy’s condition wasn’t diagnosed until this year, she said. When he was two, Mason’s speech skills began to deteriorate. His mom began to notice that he wasn’t progressing at the same speed of her two other children.
“It’s been a very long year,” she said.
But Mason “is a happy little boy,” she said.
Back at the shop, with Mason sporting a fashionable short cut, Williams said “his mother’s face was glowing. She couldn’t believe I’d actually done it. It was a breakthrough.”