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Grocery store worker lets autistic teen stock shelves, causing a ‘miracle in action’

Grocery store worker Jordan Taylor allowed Jack Ryan Edwards, an autistic teen, to help him stock shelves at Rouses Market in Baton Rouge on July 29. (Video: The Washington Post)

Sid Edwards and his 17-year-old son Jack Ryan Edwards were walking through the dairy aisle at their local supermarket in Baton Rouge on Sunday when the teen suddenly stopped.

Jack Ryan, who has autism, was staring at the orange juice. Because of his autism, it wasn’t unusual for Jack Ryan to become fixated on different things. His father figured he wanted to buy juice.

The store employee at Rouses Supermarket, Jordan Taylor, noticed the same thing. He saw Jack Ryan staring.

So Taylor turned to the teen and offered him a bottle. No reaction.

Then it clicked for Taylor.

“Hey, do you want to help me?” Taylor asked, according to Edwards.

Jack Ryan, who is limited verbally, repeated, “Help me.”

So the employee and the teen carefully and methodically refilled the store’s dairy supply together for about half an hour.

Edwards took out his phone and started recording. In the video, Edwards can be heard saying, “I’m watching a miracle in action.”

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Edwards knows a lot about autism, and he knows that most strangers he meets don’t understand his son, let alone go out of their way to connect with him. Jack Ryan has an older brother who is also autistic and both his sister and mother work as special education teachers.

“What I’ve learned is our world doesn’t accept autistic kids. It’s impossible for those kids to enter our world,” Edwards said. “We spend so much time working on that, but this man figured it out in eight seconds: He went into Jack Ryan’s world.”

Jack Ryan’s sister, Delaney Edwards Alwosaibi, 27, was not at the store but she saw the video. She said she noticed Taylor’s patience. He could have finished the job a lot faster on his own, but took the time to let Jack Ryan help, encouraging him the whole way.

“Jordan was a champion of inclusion that day,” Alwosaibi said. “He might not have known at the time but he was an advocate for our kids, for everyone who has a sibling, child or student with disability.”

Alwosaibi said she hopes Taylor’s act will open employer’s minds about hiring people with autism.

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She posted the video on Facebook, and hundreds of thousands of people have seen it and applauded Taylor. Rouses Supermarket has since offered Jack Ryan a part-time job shadowing and stocking shelves. The Edwards family said they are considering letting him try out the job, perhaps with some with assistance.

The Edwards family said they are so grateful to Taylor for his simple yet extraordinary act.

“I told [Taylor], the things you do when no one’s watching, that’s who you really are, that shows your true character,” Alwosaibi said.

She started a GoFundMe college fund for Taylor, writing that he loves math and wants to be an educator one day. The campaign has raised more than $83,000.

“There’s a lot that’s wrong in the world, but to know that that humanity exists is truly rare,” Edwards said. Taylor “was just being him, and boy if we had more of hims in the world, how would great that be?”

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