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Mental health support is hard to define. This article is of course not meant to exclude anyone, there are many different ways to help someone who experiences mental health problems, and the best ways to support can differ from individual to individual. Nevertheless, those who have a loved one who is suffering from a mental health problem are often unsure how they can be supportive. Two parents from Mission, Texas, however, found a really great way to show autism support for their son. Read about it here.
Blockbuster, which already filed for bankruptcy in 2011, has been closing their stores around the world. Most of their stores have been closed for a while now, but a handful remained in Alaska and Texas. But when the Blockbuster in Mission, Texas closed down, it left one 20 year old very distressed.
When Hector Andres Zuniga, the 20 year old son of the Zuniga couple, who is on the autism spectrum, heard the store was about to close, he was absolutely devastated. Blockbuster was one of his special interests, and he visited the store at least twice a week, and has been going there since he was 13. A special interest is something many people on the autism spectrum experience. Some people’s special interests are for example, Trains, Geography, old Hollywood movies, plants, or certain species of animals.
The staff in the store watched Hector Andres grow up, and whenever he passed the store in the car with his father, who is also called Hector, he would point and say one of the few words he verbalises: “Barney”. Going to the store brought him comfort and provided routine.
People on the autism spectrum often respond better to routine and familiarity, and tend to struggle with large changes. As Hector Andres’ special interest is Blockbuster, it is quite clear that such a change as the local Blockbuster closing would be very upsetting for him. But some months ago, a Blockbuster staff member pulled Hector Andres’ mother Rosa aside during a visit, to tell her the store would be closing. She didn’t hesitate and called her husband Hector Sr., when they had an idea. The store would be selling their inventory before the official closing date, and they decided to buy some of the items to recreate the Blockbuster experience at home for their son.
They installed a Blockuster display rack, complete with the Blockbuster sign and a huge collection of his favourite DVD’s, including Elmo, Barney, Rugrats, Veggie Tales, Blues Clues and other of Hector Andres’ favourites.
When their parents revealed the setup, the young man’s older brother Javier was so touched by the reveal, he posted pictures on twitter. Those went viral, being shared and liked over 125,000 times. Javier expressed that while his brother is generally non-verbal, he responded to the reveal by smiling and clapping his hands together.
So while pretty much all physical Blockbuster locations have now closed, it is quite certain that this little one in Mission, Texas will stay open for a while longer ;).
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What are some amazing occasion mental health support/autism support moments you have witnessed?
Do you have a loved one experiencing a mental illness and how do you support them?
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