We all get into routines, and it can be pretty disorienting when something disrupts them. These disruptions can often be even more stressful for children with autism. A California mother with a son on the spectrum says a retail store recently went above and beyond when he experienced such an issue.
Rebecca Harlow was headed into an Old Navy in Clovis, California with her daughter and her five-year-old son Heath in tow. As they entered the store, Heath became upset because he didn’t see the mannequin of ‘Magic the Dog’ that typically sits near the front.
Harlow wrote in a Facebook post, “Heath loves the dog on display at Old Navy. You know the one. The happy, smiling figure that greets you at the door. Today the dog was not there among his mannequin friends. Heath was immediately upset and proceeded to hurry through the store, anxiety mounting, crying out ‘Dog!? Where did you go?! Where are you?! He’s gone!!’”
She explained that this was especially upsetting to him because he relies on predictability and routine to get him through the day.
To try to calm him, Harlow found an employee to ask about the dog’s whereabouts and let her know why Heath was having such a hard time. When Harlow learned that Magic wasn’t on that display at that particular moment, she got back to her shopping. Fortunately for Heath, the employee had his back and wanted to make sure he was okay.
Harlow wrote, “She later approached me and told me quietly that the dog was now in the display if Heath wanted to see him on his way out. Now you may think I’m odd, but if you know, you know… My eyes filled with tears at this kind gesture and I couldn’t wait to tell Heath.”
She walked with him and his sister up to the front for the surprise. When he saw the dog back its place, Heath’s face broke out into a smile and he hugged the mannequin in relief. Harlow says the gesture was deeply touching.
She wrote, “On days of sadness or rigidity or feelings that are just too big for his little body and mind, it’s moments like these that my heart explodes to see his happiness… So thank you Old Navy employee for bringing happiness to a little boy who has a hard time in this world. You made him smile and for that I am so very grateful.”
The sweet story could have ended there, but the store had one more trick up its sleeve.
Soon after, Heath was invited back for one more surprise. Old Navy’s corporate office had heard about Heath and decided to give the five-year-old his very own Magic mannequin. The retailer told People that they were touched by the story and wanted to do something for him, saying they believe in more than just selling clothes.
After Heath collected his new dog friend, Harlow shared the update in another Facebook post, saying, “Heath’s Magic Moment!! Thank you to Old Navy and your kind hearted employees!”Whizzco