Jaxon Maples is a 4-year-old boy with autism, and many days, he has trouble communicating and speaking clearly. But there is one place where those things aren’t a problem for him.
And no, we’re not talking about Disney World, an amusement park or a toy store.
“When it comes to Lowe’s, he can talk clear as day,” said Shauna Rippee, Jaxon’s mother. “That’s his happy place.”
Rippee said her son was diagnosed with autism when the boy was 18 months, and right around that time, his interest was piqued by spinning objects.
When Jaxon went to a Lowe’s store and saw the fans section, it was like love at first sight.
Jaxon went on to become intrigued by washer and dryers and their spin cycles, and he studied the machines at his house extensively.
When he discovered the washer and dryer section at Lowe’s, it was like he had found a candy warehouse.
“If you take him to a Lowe’s, that’s how he reacts almost every single time we go,” Rippee said. “It’s a Disneyland for him. It never gets old for him.”
When people at the Lowe’s location in Springfield, Missouri, near Jaxon’s hometown, learned about the boy’s fascination with the store, workers there made it a priority to give the boy a special day.
The store made Jaxon an honorary associate on Nov. 7, giving him a red vest and bucket full of Lowe’s merchandise, such as trucks, trains, clothes, kits, a football signed by members of the staff and a desk clip fan.
The vest is something in particular that Rippee said her son has to be around all the time. He wakes up each Saturday morning and puts it on, and takes it to school in his backpack each day.
Rippee said Jaxon won’t go to school without the vest, and has to remind teachers each day to make sure it’s in his backpack on the return trip home.
“He won’t get on the school bus without it,” Rippee said. “I tried to trick him one day, and it didn’t work.”
Rippee said it was at an early age when Jaxon learned where bleach and laundry soap go, in the washer. Given his interest in those appliances and anything else that spins, Jaxon just might be one day building the machines he adores so much at Lowe’s.
“I definitely think that’s going to be something in his future,” Rippee said.
This story was first published in 2020. It has since been updated.