Why This Photo of a Shoe Salesman Helping a Boy with Autism Is Going Viral
As mom to a high-support, non-speaking autistic 8-year-old and as a fervent autism acceptance advocate, one of my guiding beliefs is that I shouldn't change my child to fit the world, but rather I hope to change the world to better understand and accommodate my child (and other people with disabilities of all types). Although I cringe when I see stories about people getting "good person" points for acting like decent humans, I do appreciate when examples of successful accommodation go viral.
Take this recent photo and accompanying Facebook post by mom Gem Salter. In the post, Gem shares her gratitude for Aaran Daniels, a shoe store clerk who accommodated her 6-year-old son River, who is on the spectrum. I totally get this gratitude, because like my son, River struggles with sensory challenges and is easily overwhelmed by noise and crowds. Shoe shopping can be tough, and I'd love if our local shoe store would do exactly what this one did.
As River's mom tells it: "I knew there was no way [my son] would cope with that environment so I explained the situation to a member of staff. Without hesitation, Aaran led us away from the noise and crowds to a staff room and placed a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. He was very patient with River, who was anxious, and went and got lots of different shoes for him to try on. We left with a great pair of shoes, a very happy boy- and Aaran also gave us the store number and said they'd happily book us an appointment before the store opens so that it's quiet."
What a thoughtful gesture on the part of the clerk and what a lovely idea for the store to allow them to shop before opening! I hope that more businesses will follow suit, and if your child struggles in similar situations, don't be afraid to ask for similar accomodations!