We love this heartwarming story about Dylan Johnson, a teen with autism who recently celebrated his 14th birthday -- and got an unforgettable surprise.
Dylan has loved vacuums since he was 2-years-old, when he was first diagnosed with autism. He even dressed as a vacuum salesman for Halloween one year. Because of Dylan's obsession (which is a common symptom in kids with autism) his mom, Jodie Greene, planned a vacuum-themed birthday.
I am reaching out to you in hopes for an answer to an unusual request for my son who is autistic. He has always been obsessed with vacuum cleaners. His favorite is the Kirby. He spends hours every day watching videos on his tablet about different Kirby's. When he isn't watching videos about them, he is talking about them. I really would LOVE to get a demo done for him for his birthday. In fact, I am even getting him a cake made that looks like a Kirby vacuum. I am writing to you in hopes that you can get me in touch with a way to get him this demo. I want to be clear that I do not intend on purchasing a Kirby. I was hoping that I could pay a flat fee or thought that maybe if you have salesmen in training that needs to get in practice demos for training purposes. I do not want anything free, but as the mother of a special needs child, it is so hard to find things to make my son happy. I know that having this demo done would just be so awesome, and it would warm my heart to see him so excited to experience that.
Kirby Company representatives responded to Greene's request and, within two weeks, arranged for a salesman to travel from Ohio to Virginia (where Dylan lives). The salesman, Al Archie, arrived at the birthday party to give a 30-45 minute demo of a new vacuum and its different attachments.
But the ultimate surprise came after the demo -- when Archie presented Dylan with the new vacuum as a birthday gift. "Right after they finished shampooing, [Archie] said, 'This is your vacuum, you get to keep it. We all just started crying. We had no idea that that was going to happen," Greene told TODAY. What's even more amazing about the story: Archie actually paid for the vacuum himself. Needless to say, Dylan shared the vacuum was "the best birthday present ever."
In addition, the Kirby Company provided Dylan with a birthday gift that included a t-shirt, hat, and soccer ball branded with their logo. His mom also added, "As corny as it sounds, it was magical because I didn't think it would happen, and I got to see Dylan smile and be happy."
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
Children with Autism: The Parents Perspective
Image: Photo of Dylan Johnson, Jodie Green, and Al Archie via the ABC 8 News Twitter account