Creative Commons License photo credit: aslinth

This is the 3rd in a series of cases of “What would you do?”

The Case of the Shoes on the Wrong Feet

The Case of the Lourdes Holy Water

What would you do? The case of trash vs. treasure

We usually pick up Aaron, our 36 year old son with the label of autism, every Saturday night and keep him until late Sunday night. We enjoy being with Aaron and this gives the residential staff a break.

Annie, our head staff person, has worked with us for over 8 years. My husband and I always enjoy seeing her and not only sharing Aaron stories, but hearing how her life is going. We’ve developed a close relationship over the years and I count her as a friend.

We’ve been trying to get rid of some old exercise equipment Aaron no longer used, so when Annie started out the conversation with, “The junk man came…” I thought I knew where the conversation was going and was in the process of thanking her until she added,

“The junk man stopped at the house, so I gave him the boxes in the garage.”

“Which boxes are you talking about?”

I asked her if she went through the boxes first. She just said, “They were the boxes in the middle of the garage.” And seemed genuinely surprised I would be concerned.

When I reminded her we had brought some of Aaron’s things from his closet at home to store in the garage, she simply said, she forgot.
My husband tried to lighten up the conversation, but I was stunned.

And actually, a week later, still am.

Whose house is it?

My husband and I have been trying to sell our house. The realtor and home stagers suggested we take down all personal family pictures and move anything we weren’t using into storage.

Now, Aaron had lots of storage space in his garage. I certainly wouldn’t put our stuff in there, but it seemed reasonable to store boxes of Aaron’s things from his room at home.

Personal Items:

I always like to surround Aaron with pictures on the walls in his room because 1) he likes to look at them, 2) they remind him of the people who love him, 3) I want staff/visitors to know something of the people in Aaron’s life, and his personal history.

Yep, the picture collages fit just perfectly in some old boxes and suitcases. I padded them with blankets, a quilt from Aaron’s grandma, and other clothes.

Also in the boxes were Aaron’s little treasures from his life. For instance, there were some music globes that Aaron will play with from time to time and each time he took horseback riding; they gave him a horseshoe the last class. Now, prospective house buyers don’t need to see 12 horseshoes in various colors with ribbons. But, they represented happy memories and Aaron’s achievements.

Also over the years, Aaron had quite a collection of wooden puzzles. We don’t get them out very often because they aren’t age appropriate, but I thought they would make a great present to Aaron’s niece when she turns three in another year.

Also, there was a box of used encyclopedias. Aaron loves to look at these books with pictures, and it is so hard to find them, I buy them from used book stores or yard sales whenever I see them.

And, who knows what else was on the “pile of boxes in the middle of the garage?”

So, what would you do?

The boxes and old suitcases contained stuff that belonged to Aaron. Not mine, not Annie’s, not belonging to the “house.”

The boxes were long gone, the damage was done.

It’s not like they were the family jewels. I bet the Junk Man will only make a couple dollars. They were some used books, puzzles, and old horseshoes for Pete’s sake.

And, since we don’t REALLY know what was in the boxes, maybe some of these “treasures” are in the million other boxes in our other storage units. Maybe some of these things will turn up.

So, what’s the big fuss?

In the comments please share your thoughts and ask your social networks of Twitter, Facebook, etc. if they have any answers.


Remember there are no “right or wrong” answers.

Please share your thoughts. What would you say to Aaron? To Annie? To other residential staff persons? To Aaron’s case worker? To the administration of the company providing residential services? To anyone else?

What attitudes and messages does this convey for the individual with a disability, the family and/or the culture?

How do you resolve this? How many times do you forgive these mistakes?

As a parent, am I overreacting? What should I have done differently?

As a parent, how do you choose your battles for advocacy? After all, these people take care of your child every day, and Annie has been with Aaron for over 8 years.

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward,

All my best,


Related Articles (real estate, home stagers…):

Turning it over to the Real Estate Professionals and all Professionals

Memory Rocks| Not being objective

The Host vs. The Home Stagers

The Avalanche and an Aaron story