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Parents bring Blockbuster to life for son who has autism

Posted at 4:16 PM, Apr 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-29 13:23:04-04

When our favorite store closes most of us just try our best to get over it. But one family knew simply saying goodbye would be too much for their son. So they came up with a plan.

Empty racks, torn posters, an empty store. It may not mean much to most of us but to Hector Zuniga, the store that used to be near his home was his everything.

“He would let us know that he wanted to go to the Blockbuster,” says Zuniga’s dad, also named Hector. He and his wife Rose say even though their son has autism and is non-verbal, he always gets what’s important across. For example, touching someone’s ear.

"This is his way to tell you that he cares about you,” says Hector Zuniga. “His way of saying I love you.”

Their way of saying they love him, was faithfully taking him to his favorite Blockbuster for the last seven years.

“It wasn't so much the movies which of course he enjoyed but it was the actual trip,” Hector Zuniga says. “And going to the store and going to the shelves and picking what he wanted.”

So when the Zuniga’s found out the store would be closing they had one thought.

“What are we going to do?” said Rosa Zuniga. “He is going to have a meltdown because he's going to always ask us to come here. Right away it's like we have to figure out we have to have this at home. So are you selling?”

The Zunigas began buying; the store’s signs, a rack and of course, movies. They were determined to give their son a Blockbuster of his own.

“To us it was such a logical thing to do,” Hector Zuniga said.

The Zunigas said breaking the news to their son that of the store’s closing was one of the biggest challenges, because he like many people with autism has a hard time with change.

They brought him to the store the day it closed, and tried to find the words to comfort him.

“Okay the store is closing and that we have a surprise for you at home it's not the end,” Hector Zuniga said.

The surprise at home was more like a new beginning. Hector’s brother Javier snapped pictures of the moment he saw his own blockbuster for the first time.

“As a father I mean it was, with autistic people sometimes you get the win one and this this was a victory,” Hector Zuniga said.

Javier Zuniga shared the pictures on Twitter.

“I was so excited to see his reaction,” Javier Zuniga said. “I was like oh I have to share this I just want to show everyone.”

He didn’t expect the pictures to go viral.

“It wasn't really for that,” Javier Zuniga said. “I just wanted to share it and when I started to get more and more I was like wow it's amazing how many people really love this.”

The Zunigas say it was nice to see how much their story meant to so many. But what mattered most was seeing how much it meant to their son.