Shopkeeper: Alison Eitzmann
Location: Ballston Lake, NY
CafePress Shop: asdgifts, http://www.cafepress.com/asdgifts
"I've been a CafePress Shopkeeper since 2003. But it wasn't until a few years later – when my son Ben turned 22 months-old and was diagnosed with Autism – that I began creating designs devoted to autism. I found it to be a great stress reliever to work on my autism designs after a tough day with Ben and his therapies. I'm raising awareness the only way I knew how … one T-shirt at a time.
I knew my T-shirts could make a difference when they were featured in an article written by the mother of an autistic teenager. She said one of her son's shirts read, "You think you're stressed? Try having autism." Instead of angry stares from strangers who thought he was misbehaving, they saw his shirt and showed kindness and understanding."
Shopkeeper: Crystal Cook
Location: San Diego, CA
CafePress Shop: wilsonwisdom, http://www.cafepress.com/wilsonwisdom
"After discussing "labeling" in an online autism support group, I asked my son Wilson his thoughts. "Labels go on soup cans," he said. "Autism is just a diagnosis." When I mentioned this insightful response, people agreed it belonged on a T-shirt. Thinking this T-shirt would be a great gift for my son (who has always been very aware of who he is and why), I found my way to CafePress and joked about opening a shop for expressing his feelings about autism.
I didn't think much more about it until a week later, when he came to me with designs for the store. And so it began. Creating the store itself was a job for him – he wanted to make a difference in the world around him and I could literally feel the need in him to do so. He chose the color scheme and the layout of the store. Seeing the whole thing come together gave him such a sense of pride."
Shopkeeper: Matt McKendrick
Location: Cockeysville, MD
CafePress Shop: Fight Cancer Tees, http://www.cafepress.com/mattmckendrick/2698861
"Originally, my CafePress shop was a way to promote my illustrations. At the time, my girlfriend (now wife) and I were struggling with her oldest son's behavior and learning disabilities. Scary terms like "Autistic" were being thrown at us by doctors and psychiatrists. Being an artist, I dealt with the stress by creating several Autism T-shirt designs. It didn't take long for the designs to catch on, and I soon expand into breast cancer designs (as my mother is a survivor).
My greatest satisfaction comes from expressing how people with Autism are no different than the rest of us and deserve our love, compassion and understanding. I firmly believe we become stronger from difficulties we overcome in life. As a side note, although my stepson was never “officially" diagnosed with autism, he has struggled with social problems all his life. However, in this last year, he has really turned things around and is graduating from high school this June. We're extremely proud of him."
Shopkeeper: Janine Vasquez
CafePress Shop: Super Cool Autism, http://www.cafepress.com/supercoolautism
"My 8 year-old son Chad inspired me to create a CafePress shop. We always knew Chad was different, but we tried to reassure ourselves he was just a "quirky genius." He didn't play with toys normally – instead lining objects in elaborate patterns by the time he was 18 months old. Chad also loved outer space and by age of 2 knew more about planets than me. He has so many quirky traits due to his Autism, but they make Chad who he is. Today he is doing great, and is very bright and loves to learn.
My autism shirts help promote awareness, while still being fun. Because Chad has food allergies too, I also have stickers for children going to parties or events. For me, they helped prevent my son's school volunteers from handing him something he was allergic to before he was homeschooled. Another product I have in my shop is epi-pen themed buttons. They're great for children or adults who carry an epi-pen, letting people know they have this life-saving tool."
Shopkeeper: Eric Youngquist
Location: Fuquay-Varina, NC
CafePress Shop: Autism Things, http://www.cafepress.com/autismthings
"Our daughter Emma is profoundly autistic in almost every way. She was diagnosed at 2 1/2 yrs with classic autism, but we had started to notice something was off-track developmentally at around 18 months. At the time (and to large extent still today), her outward "odd" behaviors such as flapping, squealing or making other loud or guttural sounds (in either delight or frustration), seeming unresponsive to us parents, and the occasional tantrum over "nothing" was starting to draw attention and looks/stares/glares from others when out in public.
As a graphic designer by profession, I thought it would be fun to design something special for us and Emma. We started with a few simple designs for iron-ons but soon realized we could have CafePress PRINT them onto the shirts. We started doing just that since it was infinitely easier than ironing and sooo much better quality too! It was around this time that we decided to set up our own shop on CafePress and make the designs available to everyone that we had been making for ourselves and our friends and family."