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Mother's business venture helps autistic boy out of his shell

Henry, left, was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old. His mother, Amy Pahl, runs a Lularoe business out of her home that she said has been the best therapy for Henry's symptoms. (Star Gazette photo by Michelle Wirth)

One look at Henry used to make him run into a corner and huddle up into a little ball. He once was in an elevator where he hid in the corner and screamed when a stranger walked in. If someone looked at him in the grocery store, he would have meltdowns.

"It was painful for him to interact with others and social interaction was so painful for him," said Hastings resident Amy Pahl, Henry's mother.

Henry was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old, but Pahl knew that he was special from early on. He had many medical challenges since the day he was born, Pahl said. Henry has a rare form of migraines, asthma, gastrointestinal issues and he currently has epilepsy (in remission), and he had to have sinus reconstruction surgery.

Now at 5 years old (or 5 1/2 years old if you ask Henry), he loves to talk to new people, play with other children and socialize in general. Pahl said she owes the change in Henry's behavior to LuLaRoe.

LuLaRoe is a women's clothing line that Pahl was first introduced to in December 2015 when she attended a LuLaRoe party with a girlfriend. She noticed how happy the other people at the clothing party were and had a gut feeling that she was meant to do something with the company.

She launched her LulaRoe business in January 2016. She is able to run the business from her home, with merchandise being sent to her house and customers stopping by to pick up products. The first few times she had customers come to her house, Henry would run and hide under his bed.

"But then slowly, he kind of started coming out," Pahl said. "He'd peak his nose out of his room, (and ask) 'are you here for LuLaRoe?'"

She began to see a transformation in Henry. He began interacting with customers more and more and would play with the children that came over to the house. They went to a regular appointment at the Mayo Clinic and the autism specialist asked Pahl what else they had been doing for therapy, because she was surprised to see Henry coming out of his shell.

"It's been phenomenal to watch," Pahl said. "There's no real reason (for Henry's progress) other than the amount of love that comes in and out of this house is unbelievable."

She said that her customers love to see Henry and he enjoys helping out with the business. One of his favorite things to do at the moment is help out at the snack station during parties.

"A year and a half ago he couldn't have a conversation with somebody and now his favorite job is snack station because he gets to talk to everybody," Pahl said.

In honor of Henry and World Autism Awareness Day, Pahl is hosting a fundraiser through LuLaRoe April 2-3. LuLaRoe is matching all contributions. The money raised will benefit the Autism Society of Minnesota. For more information visit her Facebook page at

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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