During the Thanksgiving season, you will undoubtedly make a visit to the grocery store. For most people, a trip to the grocery store isn’t a big deal, but for parents who have special-needs children this outing can be a real challenge. We know this firsthand! Our daughter Danielle has autism, and when she was younger we just never knew what she was going to do while in the store. One time as we rounded the corner there was a display of candies on an end cap. Danielle grabbed a bag and ripped it open. Candies flew all over the floor as an elderly couple came down the aisle. We were frantically trying to clean up the candies so the couple would not fall. Luckily no one was hurt, but for a long time the memory of that incident stayed with us every time we entered a grocery store.
Lucky for us, things in the grocery store have gotten easier. Nowadays it is not uncommon for us to see Danielle walking down the aisle naming the items that she sees on her augmentative communication device. Just recently, a women came up to us to ask how to get a device because her 4-year-old was in the process of being evaluated for autism. Saint Francis has been credited with saying “Preach the Gospel always; use words if necessary.” Danielle did that — when right there in the pretzel and chip aisle we had a discussion about autism and how to get a device for another child in need of a voice.
So as Thanksgiving rolls around, let’s remember that holiday shopping can be a trying experience for special-needs families, but it can also be a blessing. Our family members and friends with autism and other disabilities can help us remember the challenges and joys of being present and human, as we live our lives as God intends for us to live.
Copyright 2017 David and Mercedes Rizzo