Thousands of thrift stores dot the landscape of both rural and urban cities across the world. They are a treasure for hearts that can find a second life for someone else's discarded goods, and they are a retail lifeline to those who are struggling to get by on a tight budget. Today's Autism Lights have started a thrift store that is all that and a business that can be a treasure and lifeline to those facing autism.
Today's Autism Light journey takes us to Amarillo, Texas, the home of Fred and Aly Harmon. Fred and Ally are the parents of 7 year old twin boys with autism named William and Luke. Fred Harmon is a police officer and army reservist and Aly manages the Lil' Treasures Shoppe, a thrift store in Amarillo, Texas. The thrift store is much more than a family business to support the high cost of autism treatments. The Harmon's have focused on giving back to others in setting up the store to be a resource for the autism community. Fred and Aly Harmon are Autism Lights because of the way they are shining a light for autism in their family and community.
Thrift Store: The Lil' Treasures Thrift Store opened on October 1, 2011 and is located at 4021 S. Washington Street in Amarillo, Texas. A sign in the Lil' Treasures Thrift Store says, "Autism is not a sickness. It is not a illness. We just see the world differently." Aly Harmon wrote this to Autism Light about her goals for the store in 2012:
I'm hoping that by the end of this year, our store will not only be a thrift store helping families purchase items at great prices, but a hub for families affected by autism to come and meet other parents, spouses, and children in their shoes. We want to be a resource for families who may have a new diagnosis or just have questions about it. We want to be a place for all levels of families to meet others and gain a better grasp of what Autism is for them. I hope to be able to employ teens and adults with Autism to learn basic work skills or simply feel like they belong.Another service they are providing through the store for the autism community is they are creating safety kits for parents and grandparents to use on overnight visits that they plan to distribute.
Texas Panhandle Center: William and Luke have been receiving ABA therapy at the Texas Panhandle Center in Amarilla for the past two years. Here is a YouTube video about the story of Fred and Aly Harmon's family as they journey with autism.
Aly Harmon shared with Autism Light this advice to other parents of children with autism:
My advice or piece of wisdom for other parents, is to find Your Own Peace with Your Autism. We are at Peace with it. We are not trying to get rid of it, it is who the twins are and we love them for it. We work to teach them to be independent, social, and educated, but every day they remind me they are so perfect the way they are. They are brilliant, loving, and funny little boys.For more information on Fred and Aly Harmon read an article by John Mark Beilue of the Amarillo Globe-News. Special thanks to Fred and Aly Harmon for being Autism Lights that shine brightly through the entire outreach of the Lil' Treasures Thrift Store and a dedication to their twin sons with autism. You are an inspiration to other parents struggling with autism of what can be built from a dream.
Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.