The owner of a Portage spa and salon is expected to issue a statement in response to an incident involving her treatment of the mother of a boy with autism that has created a social-media uproar.
Vanessa Hunt, 29, was getting a manicure Saturday when she said she witnessed Mott scold Bays for the way her 2 1/2-year son Grayson, who has autism, was behaving during a haircut. Hunt said the “severe tongue lashing” caused the family to leave mid-haircut and the stylist finished the toddler’s hair on the lawn outside.
Hunt recounted the incident in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon, which had been shared more than 26,000 times by Tuesday morning.
The post prompted numerous negative reviews of the salon, which eventually took down its Facebook page Monday. Two Facebook pages calling for a boycott of M Spa, one of which has more than 6,000 followers, were created Monday.
Bays’ account of what happened at the salon Saturday is similar to Hunt’s.
“I’ve been going to that salon for years and I started bringing my son about a year-and- a-half ago,” Bays, 28, of Portage, told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette. “This wasn’t the first time he acted that way at her salon and she was yelling at us the whole time (Saturday) in front of the staff and clientele.”
Bays said the encounter was the first time she met Mott. However, Bays said the stylist told her that she had informed Mott previously that the boy has autism. Bays is not releasing the name of the stylist, who is the only person at the salon who has cut Grayson's hair, without her permission.Bays said she apologized to Mott during the incident, telling her more than once that her son has autism.
"When I told Michelle, 'I'm sorry, he's autistic,' she said, 'I know," Bays said. "She confirmed to me she was aware."Bays said Mott "wouldn’t stop yelling."
"So I took that as we needed to leave,” Bays said. “I’ve never experienced anything else like this before. 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.”
Bays' husband, Josh, and their younger son, Wesley, were also in the salon during the incident. They all went outside where the stylist finished the haircut.
It was outside the salon where Bays met Hunt for the first time.
Bays said she has been going to the stylist for years and never before had a negative experience at M Spa. She said she and her husband were in shock by the way the way the family was treated Saturday.
They were amazed Sunday, she said, when they found Hunt’s post online, which had been shared thousands of times.
Bays also posted on Facebook her own an account of the incident.
Both Bays and Hunt say they are not responsible for creation of the Facebook pages calling for boycotts of M Spa.
Bays said she didn’t think the incident would cause such wide-spread reaction, but many autism activists have taken interest in the story. Local salons are also posting statements about the incident and one salon is even offering complimentary haircuts to Bays and Grayson.
"I don't wish bad upon anyone, but I think it is fair people know about this," Bays said.