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Local restaurant owner David Erickson at A.J.'s Restaurant in Wilmington proudly displays puzzle pieces all over the walls to show support for autism research. Offering support for this cause has become a way of life for David because he and his wife Candy Erickson's three-year old son, A.J., is autistic. Erickson named the restaurant in honor of A.J. and all the employees wear the puzzle symbol on their shirts and hats. The puzzle symbol suggests that no one knows the cause or the cure for autism, so there is always a missing piece of the puzzle with that condition.

David owned Bucci's Market in Everett before opening A.J.'s. He lives in Wilmington, which affords him more time with his family.

“I urge parents who notice something unusual going on with their children to get them checked out early. Early intervention is key to treatment. You can still have a normal, happy life. My wife was A.J.'s biggest advocate. She just wouldn't take no for an answer because she instinctively knew something was wrong,” says David.

Customers may walk through the door at A.J.'s Restaurant expecting only great food but they walk away knowing that the owner and employees are united in an effort to make a difference in the lives of children (like A.J.) and their families who deal with autism each and every day. When A.J. visits the restaurant and is treated like the superstar he is, it's easy to see that compassion, caring, and commitment can be found on the menu at A.J.'s Restaurant, too.

[Excerpt from article in Wilmington Town Crier, August 29, 2007]