The first time 10-year-old Jordie Rowland came into her barbershop for a quick haircut, it was a "disaster," as Lisa Ann described it. That's because Jordie has autism and haircuts are incredibly difficult to handle for him.
Jordie was incredibly reluctant to even enter the Brisbane, Australia, shop. Once inside, all he wanted to do was run back outside.
During that first visit, Lisa Ann spent the entire time walking around the barbershop with Jordie trying to help him acclimate to the new environment and to her. She wanted to make sure he was comfortable with her and the shop before she even attempted to approach him with a pair of scissors.
They even laid down on the floor together. She managed to sneak in a few snips when he was distracted, but the second he became agitated, she stopped, she told The Washington Post.
Children with autism do not always handle haircuts well. It's too much stimulation, too much newness and can quickly become painful and even terrifying.
"I felt that I'd failed, and it made me want to do better. It made me want to learn more about autism so I could connect with him and take away his fear."
Lisa has been a barber for 30 years and decided that she was not going to let down Jordie or his parents. He was her first nonverbal child client and people with autism need haircuts, too.
She encouraged Jordie's parents to bring him back to her barbershop every couple of weeks at closing time, usually at no charge. She hoped he'd get used to her, the barbershop and the process of cutting hair - but never were they quite successful.
Lisa Ann decided to try and cut Jordie's hair at home so he was comfortable in his own environment. However, even that didn't work.
After everything that Lisa Ann and Jordie had been through, the final straw was when the owner of the barbershop scolded her for allowing a customer to be there after hours. So she hung up her scissors there and opened her own shop, The Celtic Barber Rothwell Central.
"It made me determined to open my doors and do better by these kids."
A mother of four, Lisa Ann could not stop thinking about Jordie and others with autism who need haircuts but have difficulty receiving them. So Jordie continued to visit Lisa Ann at her new shop every two weeks where it was calm, no strangers were there and the music was turned down.
Finally, after two years, Lisa Ann and Jordie had a breakthrough. She simply started singing "The Wheels on the Bus."
She explained to The Washington Post:
"I didn't know he was into nursery rhymes, I was just trying to calm him. He looked at me like mesmerized. I had him. That was it."
While singing the crazy fun kiddie song everyone knows and loves that drives parents a bit bonkers, Jordie received his first full haircut. His parents and Lisa Ann could not hold back her emotions.
"Tears were rolling down my face. His mom was crying, his dad was crying, all of us."
Two weeks later, Jordie returned to the shop and willingly allowed Lisa Ann to cut his hair, a momentous occasion her employee captured on video. By this time, Jordie wasn't Lisa Ann's only autistic customer.
She had accrued quite a clientele whom she calls her "special kids." She's also trained her four staff barbers to cut autistic clients' hair, too.
Watch the video below to see angel Lisa Ann give Jordie a haircut singing nursery rhymes!