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Behind the Breakthroughs

Jul 18, 2018

In this episode we meet a mother who took her own personal “chaotic” experience with autism and created an inviting and friendly space for children and their families. She took her “what if” idea and opened one of the biggest autism community stores in the country. This store is designed to be accepting and inclusive of all abilities.

Meet Shannon Sullivan, the owner of the Autism Community Store. Her grass roots store has grown over the past seven years and continues to evolve and change to meet the needs of its community. It is a place where families feel safe, “normal, ” and where people get it. Everybody deserves that!


  • Meet Shannon Sullivan, owner of the Autism Community Store in Denver, CO.
  • Shannon is an amazing woman, mom, and entrepreneur.
  • The Autism Community Store started because Shannon has a daughter on the autism spectrum and she wanted to create a store where parents could get all the things they needed to buy for their kids.
  • There is always a balance between money and time when it comes to raising a child with autism.
  • When you are in the thick of it, it becomes hard navigating what you need for your child.
  • She wanted to create a space where parents could go and get the things they need from, toys, games, books, stimuli, and resources all in one place.
  • It started as a grass roots business and now it has grown.
  • Each year the store hosts an annual resource fair.
  • The resource fair is in its 7th year and it grew from 10 people attending it its first year to 1,500 people attending it this year.
  • It is the largest resource fair in Colorado.
  • It takes a very dedicated person and sense of wanting to provide for others to make an event like this grow.
  • Shannon talks about autism being isolating and the resources are scarce.
  • There are three legs of a stool that make autism challenging for families and Shannon wanted to create a store that addressed these three legs:
  1. The store provides resources.
  2. It gives people a place to go when they need a break.
  3. It is a place that is safe for parents and their kids.
  • It’s the little things that give a family a sense of feeling “normal.”
  • They can say, “I’m with people who get me.” It’s a place where everyone gets it. You are with your people.
  • Everyone deserves that!
  • Simple environmental changes allow our families to be included. 

MINDSHIFT (takeaways)

  1. The most important takeaway is to try to find what you are grateful for everyday. Find something that you can appreciate in your child, life experiences, etc. The lens of gratitude is a powerful tool.
  2. Continue to evolve as a parent and as a person. Understand that in life and you evolve, there’s no linear path, no grand finale.
  3. Be grateful for things your child does. Staying in the moment and seeing your child as individual and celebrating who they are and their strengths.