by: ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Seven-year old Leah OTooles mother brings her and her two brothers all the way from Beaverton to have Robin Bradbury cut their hair at Woodstocks new Kids Castle Cuts.  The OToole family began as clients thirteen years ago, when Leahs fifteen-year old brother Duncan was two years old.Cutting children’s hair can be challenging anytime – but especially when they are scared or just full of wiggles, or when they have special needs. Robin Bradbury, who opened Kids Castle Cuts just south of Woodstock Boulevard under the Laughing Planet restaurant in May of this year, has thirty years experience as a hair stylist, and fifteen working with children.

“A lot of kids are great, but some scream, wiggle, and fight,” she says of children who are getting a cut for the first time, or who just don’t like haircuts.

“We give haircuts to moving targets,” she says jokingly, speaking of some the one to three year-olds.

In addition to squirming children, Bradbury and her other two stylists, Chelsie Corey and Sandy Dow, serve children with special needs. “We serve a lot of children who are autistic, and for them especially, haircuts can be scary.”

Bradbury says there is no specific special technique for cutting the hair of an autistic child. “We just try to be really patient, and take extra precautions to prepare the child. I try to look right in their eyes and explain that it will be okay. We take some time and ease into it.”

Flexibility is a key at Kids Castle Cuts. “If a child needs to sit in the lap of a parent for a cut, that’s okay,” says Bradbury. “At times I have had to sit on the floor to do a cut,” she reflects.

In addition to children with a variety of special needs, the salon has clients whose children simply feel more comfortable or have more fun in a very child-oriented environment. Most children choose to sit in one of the stylist chairs that have been converted into child-sized cars: Two jeeps, a red sports car, and a US Navy jet.

Children make up about ninety percent of Kids Castle Cuts’ clients, and of those about twenty percent have special needs. The other ten percent who come in for a haircut are adults. A separate playroom equipped with toys and play equipment makes it possible for children to be safely occupied while a parent or sibling(s) get a cut. Bradbury notes that unfortunately, due to its location down steps to the lower level, there is no wheelchair access.

Unlike adult cuts, which can take up to an hour in a regular salon, Bradbury says they tend to give fast cuts to accommodate the wiggles and shorter attention spans of children. Bradbury worked at a children’s salon in Tigard for five years, then bought the business and named it Kids Castle Cuts. Ten years later she decided to move the business, when that neighborhood became less safe for children. She says she moved to the Woodstock Neighborhood because “it is a family friendly area” and because she has some friends in the neighborhood.

But she is no stranger to the neighborhood herself; twenty-seven years ago she worked as a stylist at a regular hair salon on Woodstock Boulevard called Experts in Hair, located where the John L. Scott Realty offices are now.

Kids Cuts Castle, at 6000 S.E. 41st Avenue, is open Wednesday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, and Sunday 10am-3pm. For more information, or an appointment, call 503/244-0360.

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