A Michigan family's trip to a salon on Saturday has caused an Internet firestorm after another salon patron posted about a conversation she witnessed on Facebook.
Vanessa Hunt wrote that she was getting a manicure when a mom (later identified as Ashley Bays) and her 2-and-a-half-year-old son, Grayson, came in for the boy's haircut. He was crying and Hunt recalled that her son reacted the same when he had his first haircut. Hunt wrote, in part:
All of a sudden a lady stormed into the portion of the spa we were sitting in and proceeded to give the mom a severe tongue lashing and explained how inappropriate her son's behavior was. It got silent in the room besides the woman ranting to the mother. It was seriously painful to watch seeing as I have been there more than once myself and it's very hard when your child is having a tantrum in public. The last thing you need is a woman yelling at you for it. At the conclusion of this woman's tantrum to the mother the mother said through tears, "I'm so sorry, he's autistic".
Bays left the salon, crying, and the hairstylist finished Grayson's haircut outside. Hunt went outside to comfort the mom and son.
MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette reports that the woman who allegedly yelled at Bays was the salon's owner, Michelle Mott. Bays told the paper that she had been a customer of that salon for years and had never experienced such poor treatment. "I understand if she doesn’t want children in the salon, but she could have handled it a lot differently. She could have pulled us to the side. She was very insensitive that he does have special needs,” she said.
Hunts Facebook post ended:
Please share this post if you find it as horrific and distasteful as I do. To the mom of the little boy out there, you are an amazing mother and your son is as cute as a button. I know you'll never forget this experience nor will I. I hope for his sake he does not remember it down the road. God bless you!
Since the status went up on Sunday night, it has been shared almost 30,000 times and has prompted a huge response. More than one salon has publicly offered free haircuts for Bays and her son and a page to boycott the M Spa Salon has been created. Hunt and Bays say that they had nothing to do with the creation of that page. Since Monday, the owner of the page has posted several messages -- some shaming the salon but some about autism in general.
Over on the salon's Yelp page, commenters are unanimously "disgusted". One reviewer identified as "N.N", however, faults both Bays and the salon for their actions -- N.N. claims that a high-end salon is no place for a child.
Both women told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette that they did not expect this incident or one Facebook post to cause such backlash but they are glad that the message has struck a chord. "I think people need to be aware that things like this happen all the time,” Hunt said.
According to the news source, Mott is expected to make a statement but has not done so yet.
UPDATE: The salon issued a statement saying that the matter was handled "appropriately." Ashley Bays spoke to Kyra Phillips of "Raising America" to discuss the ordeal. Watch their conversation below and then click through the slideshow to see inspiring photos from parents of kids with autism via Autism Shines.