To the Apple Store Employee Who Went Above and Beyond

Apple employee

Special needs parents know how difficult it can be to take their child to so many places that other parents don’t think twice about going to with their kids. This mom of James, a 10-year-old who’s been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome and Autism, recently posted on her Facebook page the story of an outing with her son to get a new iPad. When the trip to the Apple store started to go downhill, an employee stepped into save the day.

Because James was born with Down Syndrome, and at six-years-old was diagnosed with Autism, we use his iPad everyday as a learning tool,” the mom, LynnMarie, wrote. After years of use, the iPad no longer worked and her own iPhone, which had taken the place of the iPad, was “limping along.” A friend got her in touch with a charity–Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation Charitable Trust–which offered to buy James a new iPad. Hence, the outing to the Apple Store in Green Hills, near Nashville, Tennessee.

While they were shopping for the iPad, James was distracted by something in the mall and, as kids are prone to do, he ran off to investigate. Unfortunately, he ran full-tilt into the store’s plate glass wall in his haste to exit. As LynnMarie sat on the floor, cradling her son, employee Andrew Wall came over to see if James was alright and to offer his help. LynnMarie replied that James would be okay, but that they’d come to the store to purchase an iPad and then asked Andrew if he’d help them buy it and set it up, “down here on the floor?”

LynnMarie went on to explain, “And so he did. Your awesome employee sat with James on the floor of the store and set up the new iPad. There are no words to accurately describe how grateful I am that he took the time to ‘meet us right where we were.’ He didn’t have to sit down on the floor with us. He could have easily waited for us to stand. Could have easily waited for us to come back another day. But he hung out with us in the midst of our pain. He even got a fist bump from James, and I snapped this photo.”

At first, LynnMarie took to Facebook in order to tell the Apple store how wonderful this employee was and to find out his name. Both have since been accomplished, and we’re proud to pass on not only this wonderful story, but also the name of this kindhearted and generous soul. As LynnMarie went on to post:

“Life is a learning journey. And I walked away from this experience with the reminder to always meet people where they are at. It’s so easy to be so focused on our own mission or plan (or sale) that we fail to see what people really need. I long to be better at this. I long to not be so self-absorbed that I never miss an opportunity to love exactly like someone needs in the moment.”

Thank you, Andrew Wall, for meeting James where he was, and for turning around what could have been an awful experience into an amazing memory.

Finding the Beauty – An Autism Story

Angela Conrad - Finding the Beauty 1Autism is hard, without a doubt. I’m sure many of you would agree to that. As parents of children with autism, we face a wide range of emotions and challenges daily. There are times when I feel like I’ve been beat to the curb. However, at other times I couldn’t be more overjoyed by my children.

Too often in life, people focus on the “negative” things. When it comes to autism, it’s very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life with autism. For example, it is by no means ever calm and quiet in my house. Even though I have one child who is non-verbal, that simply doesn’t mean that he is quiet! He, along with my other son with autism who is verbal and loves to talk; well, our house isn’t exactly the place you go to in order to relax. I’m normally chasing Trenton around the house, trying to keep him from climbing up my walls (literally!), while Andrew is chasing after me, asking me every detailed question that he can come up with.

It’s easy to focus on all the tantrums, meltdowns and therapy schedules. Of course, it’s upsetting when we can’t participate in extended family functions or all the community activities that go on throughout the year.

Let’s not forget all the times we’ve been kicked at when it is “potty” time. All the minutes and hours throughout the day and week that we spend battling simple daily tasks just gets exhausting. Natural, daily functions are very complicated, time-consuming and often lifelong difficulties for children like mine.

The stress and overwhelming feelings are very easy to get caught up in as parents of children with autism. We often find ourselves not only lonely and jealous of people who live life without our challenges, but we often find ourselves battling a variety of other emotions daily.

Nonetheless, we have to stay positive and not forget to look at the beauty that’s right before our eyes.

Parents of children with autism and other special needs are so very blessed, if only you’re able to look beyond the difficulties. I have learned to appreciate everything in this life, both big and small. My sons have taught me to be thankful for things that I, more than likely, never would have appreciated before autism.

My children, just like yours, have so much to offer this world. You can find many blessing in your child, whether they’re mildly on the spectrum or at the most severe place on the spectrum. Our children are just like a present: It may take awhile to unwrap it, but there’s a beautiful gift inside when you get there. It is the most precious gift that you will ever receive.

I am not saying it’s easy. It’s by no means an easy job parenting children with autism. If you’re like me, you often function on very little sleep because your child was up all night. You may find yourself at your lowest point on certain days and that’s okay. We’re allowed to have pity parties, but try not to dwell on it. Find the beauty in your child. God granted us our children for a reason. I am sure none of us dreamed about having children with autism when we were expecting our children. However, God had different plans in store for us than we originally had.

My children have not only become the best teachers that I’ve ever known, but they’re also the most beautiful, innocent people that I’ve ever met. They are true examples of what all of our souls need to be like.

As I said before, I know how easy it is to get consumed with the difficulties of the world of autism. However, don’t let that keep you from seeing the beauty of it, too. If you can see the beauty and opportunities that are right before your eyes, then you will never again wish for a life that could have been.

Keep your heads held high, fellow autism parents! We don’t have an easy job, but it is a beautiful path!


Angela and her family reside in Terre Haute, Indiana, where they moved to get more help for her son with severe autism. She was born and raised in a small town in southern Illinois where her love for animals and helping others blossomed.

She enjoys sharing the honest and real side of autism through her writing. Her writing may not apply to every family with a child with autism, but it is sure to apply to the families raising children on the severe end of the spectrum.

To read more of Angela’s journey please visit her website or like her Facebook page.

An Open Letter to New Parents of Autism


Family Together

Parenthood. It’s a beautiful thing.

As soon as that pregnancy test shows positive or that adoption call is received, your world changes. Your hopes and dreams are modified to include hopes and dreams for your children. Visions of holidays and birthday parties dance in the air. The word “Mother” or “Father” is suddenly not old-sounding, but kinda cool. Your whole life is changing and you can’t wait for that child to be born.

The child appears and is more beautiful than ever. You can see yourself in them. Your life instantly changes to a focus on keeping them safe and building a better future.

The months go on. You share laughs. You share cries. Everything Parenthood was meant to be, it is. Nothing is more beautiful.

Then one day you notice something. Another day you notice something else. At first, you ignore it or pawn it off, but then your friends and family ask if he/she is “okay,” or your spouse suggests seeing a doctor, or you start reading online about why something isn’t right.

That special spark changes to concern. After all, your job is to keep them safe.

The concern builds. You see sparks in other children that your child doesn’t seem to have. You see behavior that isn’t typical, yet you question what typical really is.

One day you choose to stop playing doctor and go see one.

The word Autism is spoken.

A word that slightly touched your vocabulary before, but was rarely ever used. A word that was seen only in articles you read. A word that never entered your household. A word you really don’t even know the meaning of.

The world stops.

You say it again. Autism.

How? Where? Why?

It can’t be real.

How do we beat this thing? Is there a pill? Can we just give him a shot? He’ll be okay by Sunday — he has to be.

My child doesn’t have Autism. That’s crazy.

Oh, but he does.

New Parents should know that everyone has a different experience, but almost everyone goes through the same feelings.


“Autism is my fault.” “How did I give my child Autism?” – So many phrases like these will circle in your head. You’ll lose sleep. You’ll blame yourself. You’ll blame your spouse. You may even blame the mailman. It’s okay. We all went through this. It’s nobody’s fault. You are not responsible for Autism. You are responsible for keeping your child safe. You are responsible for helping them grow. You are responsible for so many great things and blame is not one of them.


“What did I do to deserve this?” “I can’t do this.” “I’m not cut out to be a special needs parent.”

First, you didn’t do anything wrong. He/she was made this way.

Second, you were cut out to be a parent. And that means loving your child NO MATTER WHAT. If we all had a choice, I’m pretty confident that a football star, rock star or Mark Zuckerberg would be the first choice for our children.

Sadly, that isn’t what happens. We learn to play the cards that were dealt and that’s what makes a great parent – not wishing for the best of the best but loving what you have. The sooner you realize that your child has nothing but unconditional love for you, and that you are the guardian of the person they will become, then the sooner your actions will help their development. You may not have chosen to be in this situation but you can choose how to deal with it going forward.


You will hate yourself. You will hate your spouse. At times you will hate how Autism makes you feel. It is OKAY. We all did. Many still do. But the great thing about anger is it goes away. Remember those four magical words: You are not alone.

Trust me, I’ve been there. The parent feeling alone, fighting the world of typical kids and happy marriages. Everyone else had something beautiful. I was robbed. I was angry. I checked out. Then something magical happened. I saw my child. I saw who he was. I saw he needed me. I saw he loved me. I saw he never judged me. I saw he wanted to be like me. I saw he laughed with me. I saw everything. All I had to do was open my eyes.

This will happen to you. Why? Because love conquers all.

Losing Friends

You will lose friends. It happens to all of us. But you know what? With every life change you lose friends. If you change jobs, get married, move miles away or stop dating the hot one … every turning point in your life will involve losing friends. The delusion is believing many of these people were real friends to begin with. You might have 300 “Facebook friends,” but if you can count your true friends on one hand, than you are luckier than most.

You’re a parent now. In fact, you just gained your new best friend for years to come. Your child. This is a time to focus on your family and not those who are just visitors in your journey of life. New friends will appear. Some will be awesome. Some will make you gossip. Some will spill secrets. Some will annoy you. Enjoy the sport of understanding people again. It’s fun and certainly a nice break from watching Thomas the Tank Engine for the thousandth time.


My favorite. Your child will embarrass you. And not the way typical children will. They may hit you, scream at you, throw shit at you — all in a public place, while making sounds and body movements resembling those of master circus performers. You will look like the parent who can’t control their child. You will feel the eyes of everyone around you. You will feel alone in a sea of judgment. This will happen over and over — and then … one stranger will say something so kind and incredible to you that all of the embarrassment will be gone. You will find strength from that single moment to be Super Mom or Super Dad and say Heck yeah – that’s my child and I am so proud of him.

No one has all the answers for the set of challenges you face. No Grandparents. No Friend. No Doctor. No Teacher. No Advisor. Some can help. Some will guess. Others will have no clue. Many of them are also experiencing the uniqueness of your child as much as you are. One of the most popular quotes in this community is “When you meet one child with Autism, you have met one child with Autism.” A beautiful set of words, defining how unique every child on the spectrum is.

What I can provide are words of comfort and wisdom from being a parent who shattered and then found himself again, and its simply words my parents told me many years ago: “When you fall, get back up.” Your parents likely said the same thing. And you know what, our parents were right. The key is to get back up early and never, ever let the challenges keep you down.

Almost every new parent of Autism (and almost any special needs child) will go through these stages. Just always remember these four magic words.

You are not alone.