Maplewood salon offers sensory-friendly day only open to children with special needs

AmberSky family hair salon in Maplewood offers parents of special needs kids a no-judgment zone while working to address the child's sensitivities. 

Debbie Monterrey
November 24, 2019 - 2:53 pm

MAPLEWOOD, Mo (KMOX) - On this Monday, AmberSky in Maplewood appears closed. But that's because it is Mindful Monday: a day when the salon is open only to children with special needs. One child at a time, booked for a full hour.

The usual flurry of noise and activity is nowhere to be found. No blow dryers, no other children running about. There's soft music playing, lights low, minimal sensory output. Their customers have a wide variety of sensitivities. 

"Sometimes it's not liking haircuts in general. Sometimes not liking sitting in one spot, not liking hair on them," says AmberSky owner Jaime Lueders. "If they don't want to sit in the chairs, they can sit on the floor. Sometimes they'll lay their head on [stylist] Jill's lap and she's able to cut their hair that way. Just being able to have that quiet time, she's able to customize things to that child's needs."

Stylist Jill Boggeman says sometimes she only gets two snips in before they have to take a break, and sometimes two snips are all they get. 

"We're probably not going to get a good haircut the first couple of times," says Boggeman. "But, repetition is key and if you keep bringing them in, you know, we're going to eventually get there. So don't give up."

Amber Sky Salon Maplewood
For Amy Shea, AmberSky has made a huge difference for her and her 3-year old son, Frankie, who has level 3 autism. She says wherever they go, she has to "plan plan plan" and call ahead to make sure people know she is bringing her son, whose level on the spectrum requires the most care. The hardest thing about being out in public, she says, is the stares and the people who just aren't kind about a child with special needs. The one-on-one time at AmberSky is like a gift.

"Having no one else around to give us those stares is amazing," says Amy. "It makes me just so emotional about not having to worry about that part of things."

They haven't perfected Frankie's haircut, Amy admits. It's a work in progress. But when asked about AmberSky's no-judgment zone Amy tears up. 

"Oh my God, you're going to make me cry. Honestly."

When it's not Mindful Monday – which happens on the third Monday of every month – AmberSky is a family hair salon. Children are always welcome and they give parents the opportunity to get their haircut at the same time. While they've found a niche with kids, both Jaime and Jill say they'd love more adult clients. Often, it's a harried mom who can't find the time otherwise to get her hair done.

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