Dave and Mercedes Rizzo describe how they found ways to help their daughter, who has autism, learn to help others in need.
Each day we would put the glasses on Danielle’s face. Both of us would hold her small hands so she could not remove the glasses as we walked around the house. And we would say a prayer that her tolerance for the glasses would improve. Danielle began to accept wearing the glasses for longer and longer intervals.
This was our story twenty years ago when our daughter Danielle was three years old. Now she is in her early twenties and so much has changed since then, mostly for the better. Back then it was an enormous challenge just to have her eyesight evaluated due to her autism and inability to read an eye chart or to speak. Fortunately, we found the right eye doctor and he was able to determine that she indeed needed eyeglasses and the correct prescription. Getting her to tolerate wearing glasses took a little longer, but this too was accomplished with a little creativity.
Eyeglasses have become a big part of Danielle’s life and over the years she collected quite a few pairs. Most of these sat cluttering up a drawer. We were holding on to them just in case she needed them as she often misplaced or broke them, especially when she was younger. Nowadays, she puts them on like a pro when she wakes up. She understands their value to her. Recently, she has discovered that her glasses can be a valuable gift when donated to those in need.
One recent Saturday, Danielle helped us gather up her collection of glasses and donate them. We found an organization that takes used eyeglasses and gives them to those who desperately need them. They were very happy to receive Danielle’s donation and said that these glasses would be much appreciated by the new recipients. As Danielle placed the glasses into the donation box one pair at a time, her smile grew larger and larger, and her delight in this was evident.
Empathy doesn’t always come easily to Danielle. It is believed that autism makes it harder to understands the needs of others. Opportunities like this move her a little bit closer to realizing that others have needs and that she can help. Experiences like this have allowed Danielle to know that, in the words often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “It is in giving to all that we receive.”
Copyright 2022 David and Mercedes Rizzo
Images: (top) Canva; all others copyright 2022 David and Mercedes Rizzo
About the Author
David and Mercedes write and speak from a faith perspective as parents of a child with autism. They are available to speak, and have appeared on radio and other media. Visit DavidAndMercedesRizzo.com to learn more. Follow them on Facebook at Autism With The Rizzos. Authors of Praying For Your Special Needs Child, (Word Among Us Press) and Spiritually Able and The Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit (Loyola Press).