Parents Give Their Blockbuster-Obsessed Son With Autism the Best Surprise

boy with autism blockbuster store at home
Grab your tissues! This is a story that will make you cry tears of happiness. Parents of a 20-year-old man with autism created a Blockbuster video store in their home after their local shop closed, and their son's joyful reaction is priceless and made their whole endeavor a labor of love.



From the time he was 13 years old, Hector Andres Zuniga would visit his local Blockbuster in Sharyland, Texas, twice a week to pick out snacks and his favorite flicks, which include Barney, Rugrats, and Blue's Clues.

For many people on the autism spectrum, verbal communication is a challenge. But when Hector would pass the shop, where the employees knew him by name, he would point and say "Barney," giving his family a chance to hear his voice and get a glimpse into his interests.

So, when employees alerted his parents to the sad fact that the store was closing, everyone knew this young man would take it hard.

More from CafeMom: 11 Autistic Kids Explain 'What Autism Really Means'

"[Hector Andres] is a happy-go-lucky kid," Hector's dad, Hector Sr., told the Huffington Post. "He's all heart, he's very tender, but like anyone else, he has bad days. And we knew one of those bad days were around the corner when we found out that the Blockbuster was about to close."

Rather than lose something that brought their son so much joy, Hector's parents -- along with Blockbuster employees -- went out of their way to recreate the experience for him right in the famiy's own home. 

boy with autism blockbuster store at home

It was Hector's mom, Rosa, who came up with the idea to buy some of their local store's inventory and set up an in-home Blockbuster. As the store began selling off its wares, workers who knew the family started saving items -- like signs and even a DVD rack -- they knew the young man would enjoy. Doesn't that melt your heart?

More from CafeMom: Doctors May Be Able to Scan for Signs of Autism in Babies as Young as 6 Months

When the store's official closing day arrived, Hector Sr. wanted his son to fully comprehend what had happened. And, though he realized it wouldn't be easy on his boy, knowing a wonderful treat was waiting at home made it better. 

"He made a beeline to the area where he usually rents movies," Hector Sr. recalled. "And there was nothing there. The shelves that usually had his DVDs were already gone. He understood, I could see it in his eyes. And he almost started having a meltdown."

The compassionate dad held his son's hands, stared into his eyes, and told him, "This place is closing, but it's okay. We have a surprise for you at home."

(See, we told you to get the tissues ready!)

So, how did Hector Andres like Blockbuster's new location? He loved it!

boy with autism blockbuster store at home

"It's hard for my son to express emotions. But when he saw the room, his eyes were as big as saucers," Hector Sr. told the HuffPost, adding, "His way of saying 'I love you' is by going up to you and grabbing your ear lobe. So he came up to me and grabbed my ear ... it was one of those moments that us parents live for."

We love that this family did this for their son, and it's also amazing that the Blockbuster employees were sensitive enough to give his parents a heads-up first and recognize this would be a significant loss to him. Even though they were faced with their own issues that accompany having to find new jobs, it's lovely to see that this young man's feeling were also on their minds.

autistic man blockbuster home

"Those employees really came out to bat for my son," Hector Sr. told the HuffPost. "They really paid attention and did a hell of a job."

So did you, Hector Sr., and Rosa too! 

Read More >