Ian's First Buzz Cut

by Diane Hunter on July 22, 2010

My youngest son, Lane declared last Sunday haircut day and Lowell and I decided to give our oldest son, Ian his first buzz cut. Sounds pretty normal.  So why the blog post?

For those of you that don’t know Ian, he’s non-verbal and has autism.  And if you’re a parent of a child with autism you have first hand knowledge of why a haircut can present a great challenge.  I used to tell stories of how Ian would verbally protest, constantly get out of the chair and swipe Lowell’s hand away. Today, I have a new story to share.  One of healing, trust and love.

Ian has an incredibly sensitive nervous system with a hair trigger fight or flight response.  It’s so easy to tell when he doesn’t feel safe because he immediately tries to escape the situation.  I used to call him my “runner”.

We’ve focused on building a relationship on trust and creating an environment where Ian feels completely safe. We shifted from trying to get him to do things to leading by example and inviting him to join us.  It has completely transformed the way Ian connects with us.

As I watch this video, it shows how far we have all come as a family.  Ian sits in the chair, allowing Lowell to cut his hair with a machine that vibrates and makes noise.  Not once does he swipe his hand away.  Lowell’s hand gently rests on Ian’s shoulder to provide gentle reassurance.  Ian is free to move around and get up if he chooses…but he doesn’t.  He patiently waits for his father to finish.

I sit behind the camera and record the scene.  I witness trust, gentleness, and love play out between father, son and brother.

The whole experience makes my heart swell.  At the end, when I ask the three of them to pose for the camera, Ian directly references me with a little smile and twinkle in his eyes.  He looks so proud of himself.

This sweet little moment in time carries profound meaning for me. It demonstrates how far our entire family has come from those dark days of pain for all of us, especially Ian.  He is healing not only himself but his family that gathers lovingly around him.

Thank you, Ian for being such a brave, courageous teacher and inspiration for all that love you.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Olsen July 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Diane! This is so gorgeous – I’ve watched it several times over the last week – thank you for sharing your thoughts on it. It makes my heart swell too to see how listening beyond words has connected you to each other and brought peace into your lives. I LOVE IT!! Love to the Hunter family – big squeezes to Ian and Lane for me please! And tell them Aunt Nancy loves them. xoxo


Diane Hunter July 22, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Thanks, Auntie Nancy! I’ll give them both a big squeeze from you tonight before bed. :) Will miss you next week at SSC. Big hugs right back at ya.


Linda Bookman July 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Diane – this is such a beautiful story of love and trust for the whole family. Matt, Evan and I watched the video again and are so moved by the gentleness of Lowell, the helpfulness of Lane, and the patience of Ian. And YOU did a great job with the videography and commentary. What a beautiful, beatutiful family.


Jeannette July 24, 2010 at 12:51 am

And I thought I had a handsome boy! Thank you, Diane, for this moving example of love in action. What a treat that we get to experience it with you and your family.



Debee DiMenichi July 28, 2010 at 2:32 am

Dearest Diane,
I don’t know if you remember me from our time together in Scottsdale with Koelle. I just finished my MB training and I also cut children’s hair three days a week. I have several autistic clients and I know the challenges that can arise. It was so moving to watch your husband lovingly buzz Ian’s beautiful head and to see him in such a place of peace and trust. If he needs a job, I’ll be happy to give him a reference:)


Diane Hunter August 1, 2010 at 5:33 am

Hi Debee,
Yes, I remember you. :) Congratulations on completing the training!! Thank you for your kind words and sharing your experience cutting hair as well. It truly is amazing how far Ian has come and how beautifully he and his father connect.


Deb July 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Diane, my heart swelled, my eyes swelled – oh, my, what a great story. Such a loving, warm, and safe family you are. LOVED Ian’s smile as he got out of the chair. One of these days, I may be lucky enough to meet him and the other two main guys in your life! xo


sheena smith August 2, 2010 at 1:57 am

great job! very heart warming..thx for sharing!


Pete Dunlavey August 23, 2010 at 6:07 am

Hi Diane. That is a WONDERFUL clip! Two years ago who would have thought Ian capable of this, but here he is! Knowing how hard you and Lowell have worked with Ian, I think it’s absolutely beautiful to see how much progress he has made since then. I wish all four of you continued success and many more happy family moments such as this.


doofmann December 16, 2010 at 4:33 am

Hey extremely good blog!! Guy .. Gorgeous .. Astounding .. I’ll bookmark your blog and get the feeds


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