To the Disney Store Employees Who Really 'See' My Son With Autism

Every few months my son Griffin, who is on the autism spectrum, has an appointment downtown. From the very beginning we would make a day of it, going to the local playground and stopping by the Disney Store nearby. On our first visit to the store we met Lena, a cast member with whom we instantly connected. She took her time talking to Griffin and really seemed to get him. Lena made an impression on both of us, and we think she’s the best! I always text Lena to let her know when Griffin’s next appointment is, so we can make a point to see each other if possible. We’ve been friends now for about a year, and seeing her always makes our day.

Recently, Griffin had another appointment downtown. He was having a hard time on our way to the appointment, and I wasn’t sure if things would get better. But we stuck to our plans and made our usual visit to the Disney Store. As soon as we walked into the store we were greeted by Lena and her beautiful smile.

As I was talking to Lena, Griffin asked if he could go look at the “Frozen” toys. There is a book that he likes to read every time we are there.  I caught him out of the corner of my eye asking one of the cast members for help when he couldn’t find the book. The fact that he was being independent and asking for help alone was pretty cool, but then when I got to him I was really blown away.

Griffin and Jess reading
Griffin and Jess reading.

Jess, the woman who was helping Griffin, was on the floor reading to him. She had helped him find the book he was looking for, and then offered to read to him while he read silently from the same book. Jess was so sweet and spent a good amount of time with him. With her permission, I captured the moment and wanted to share it. I told her that in my opinion, we need to see and share more moments like these.

Moments where a person really sees Griffin — not his age or how he “should be acting, but they really see him and meet him where he’s at — show us what is possible for him and for us as a family. It shows us that acceptance, non-judgment and kindness are possible. Griffin is a beautiful boy who is trying to navigate the world, and I’m so grateful that moments like these show him (and us) that he will be just fine.

My family has been very fortunate to have moments like this to cherish and share. Thank you Lena, Jess and the Disney Store for making our day better and brighter!

A version of this post originally appeared on What Will This Day Bring?

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