Updated: Feb 11, 2020
Grocery shopping with a person with disabilities is not always easy. We know this first hand. We remember many times when our daughter Danielle would wreak havoc in the aisles by pulling items of the shelves, opening bags of food that would spill onto the floor. Thankfully she doesn’t do these things anymore. Nowadays Danielle will walk with us patiently helping us push the shopping cart. She will even load items on the conveyor belt for the cashier with prompts and assistance from us.
Recently, we were shopping and Danielle started to ask for cheese from the deli counter by using the picture communication program on her ipad device. This program allows her to speak out loud when she touches picture icons on her tablet. The young man assisting us at the deli counter asked why she was using an ipad to speak. We explained that she has autism and that is how she is able to communicate. He responded, “I understand because I have Asperger’s, well technically.” He asked a lot of questions and some of them Danielle could answer. During their “conversation” others at the deli counter were paying attention and smiling. It would have been a lot quicker to shop alone without Danielle but she benefits from being out in the community interacting as best she can. Others benefit from interacting with her, even if just observing her.
There’s a great verse from the Bible (Hebrews 13:2) where Saint Paul reminds us “always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” The interaction between Danielle, the young man at the deli counter, and those observing them was a tangible and sweet reminder of how God sends his angelic messengers to all of us. In many ways we have seen how people with special needs make a meaningful contribution by simply being who they are. Like angels they carry God’s love for all the rest of us to see.
David and Mercedes Rizzo have four children. They write and speak from a faith perspective as parents of a child with autism. David is a physical therapist. Mercedes is an educator. You can find them at https://www.davidandmercedesrizzo.com and CatholicMom.com where this post originally appeared.