How A Simple Act At A Louisiana Grocery Store Became A 'Miracle'
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
There's a video that's been trending on social media. You may have seen it while scanning through Twitter or Facebook over the last several days. It's a video where you see two young men, Jordan Taylor and Jack Ryan Edwards. Jack Ryan is autistic, and they're standing next to a refrigerator of a Baton Rouge, La., grocery store. Taylor, who's an employee of the store, is handing jugs of orange juice to Jack Ryan Edwards. And with some prompting from his dad, who's filming the whole interaction, Jack Ryan puts the juice in the refrigerator case. It's just a simple repetitive act, but this is how Jack Ryan's father, Sid Edwards, described it.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SID EDWARDS: I was watching a miracle in action. You know...
CHANG: Sid Edwards and Jordan Taylor join me now. Welcome to both of you.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
JORDAN TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.
CHANG: Sid, let me start with you. What made that moment inside the grocery store a miracle to you?
EDWARDS: Well, I try not to use that term too loosely. But I can tell you, I have two autistic children, four total kids. And it's tough raising them. To get Jack Ryan to mostly do anything, you know, is really tough. He's a little bit more - I use the term - severe than my older son Chase. And I've worked all my life to try to get them into our world. And it was just recently, after all those years, that I figured out that it's a whole lot better for me to go into theirs. And Jordan Taylor in the middle of a dairy aisle figured that out in 10 seconds. That...
EDWARDS: ...You know, he went into Jack Ryan's world, and that is really, really rare for someone to be able to - it's a gift.
CHANG: And, Jordan, when you saw this young man, Jack Ryan, standing there frozen in front of the refrigerator, how did you know he might've wanted to help?
TAYLOR: Just the way he was looking. Like, he looked so interested into it. Like, you know how you look at something when you just want to do it, but you don't know if you can ask can you help or can you do it?
TAYLOR: He was just - he looked so amazed.
CHANG: And, Sid, while all this is going on, you whip out your cell phone. You start filming this because this is momentous to you.
EDWARDS: That's correct. I'm a high school football coach, and I shared it with my team, that big moments for them are big wins, touchdowns, going to college, whatever it may be. But for me, my kid and Jordan helping him stock orange juice...
EDWARDS: ...Is a big moment.
CHANG: This video has now gone viral, and I just want to know what has it been like for you Jordan?
TAYLOR: It's been crazy. It's been crazy seeing all the positivity, just talking and interacting with people when I'm at work - sometimes when I'm just out on a normal day. Just everything that's been going on - it's been real crazy but positive and good to see.
CHANG: So as so many people have been watching this video, I hear that there's been a GoFundMe set up for you so you can get a teaching degree.
TAYLOR: Yeah, so the family said that they wanted to give me one last surprise, and it was the GoFundMe. So I just woke up one morning, and it was up. And it was already making, like, $5,000 by the time I woke up.
TAYLOR: And it was just something that they wanted to give back to me for just giving them such a special moment in their life.
CHANG: Sid, I know that you've mentioned that this whole experience inside this grocery store has kind of changed the way you think about inclusion and what it should look like. Tell me how.
EDWARDS: Well, like I said earlier in the interview about - trying to fit these people into our world isn't always the best thing to do, and you got to try. There's some things you got to do. I mean, a guy can't - you know, there was a while when Jack Ryan was 7. He would strip naked in the middle of a store or something. You know, well, that's not appropriate (laughter). OK, so it's hard - it's just really hard for them to adjust. And I think that all the parents of autistic children - there is hope. There is help. But at the end of the day, all we really want is that our kids are active, beautiful members of society. And, you know, I know what Jordan did for my kid, but it was God's plan. I could've just as easily been on the ketchup aisle, you know...
EDWARDS: ...And Jordan not there. But we got put together for a reason, you know? And like Jordan's talking about - Jordan, I can tell you, your account's at over 117,000.
CHANG: Wow (laughter).
EDWARDS: And someone started one for Jack Ryan. He's like at 4,000, and that is just goodness of people. I don't know. It's bizarre and mind-blowing all at the same time.
CHANG: And, Jordan, as you reflect back on this really simple moment that happened next to the orange juice, what do you take away from all of this?
TAYLOR: Just treat everybody the same. Like, just because somebody is a little different don't mean anything. It don't matter if it's a small child or a grown adult that's autistic 'cause you never know what that person's going through or what can brighten up their day.
CHANG: Jordan Taylor and Sid Edwards, thank you so much for both of your time and for (laughter) sharing your story with us.
TAYLOR: Thank you for having us.
EDWARDS: Hey, thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE PAPER KITES SONG, "A SILENT CAUSE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.