When Natalie Fernando and her autistic 5-year-old son Rudy were in the middle of a meltdown, a friendly stranger who passed by sat next to the boy, comforting them and helping them calm down, and together they went to see their son. the mother behind the car while she smiles.
“This man, a complete stranger, saved me today,” Natalie wrote in an online post, “either from a meltdown that lasted up to an hour or more, or the alternative that usually hits my boy a little bit. totally lose. “himself when he has a breakdown and can get very aggressive.”
Rudy, Natalie’s son, has autism, and autistic children have difficulty expressing their wants and needs. From a non-verbal child who struggles to express his need for a drink to a teenager who has difficulty expressing his emotions, this can lead to overwhelming feelings such as anger, frustration, and aggressiveness that lead to a breakdown.
It’s not a condition which traditional discipline can help, and professionals recommend giving children time, space, and a calming example to help them get relief from their sensory overload.
“My son loves to walk, but he hates to turn around and walk back. We usually try to walk in a circuit to avoid this but on his favorite walk with the boats, we have no choice but to turn back. This will often lead to a meltdown, one which I can normally handle, but on the back of 2 weeks out of school, today was too much for him and me.”
Not everyone understands children with Autism, and mothers seen having a child who screams uncontrollably are often met by strangers with cold stares and harsh internal judgments.“It got so bad at one point I didn’t go out for months,” Natalie said.
“We’ve had plenty of comments saying he should be kept at home, people in outdoor spaces like National Trust parks telling us to shut him up, shoppers in supermarkets staring and commenting under their breath, you’d be surprised how mean people can be about a little boy, but to them, they just assume he’s badly behaved.”
“Only minutes before Rudy and I were being tutted at stared at and frowned at by a woman and a man with a 2-year-old in a pram trying to sleep, despite me apologizing for my son’s loud noises, hence the walk along the seafront so I can let him express himself outdoors. Short from gagging him, I’m not sure of an alternative.”
Yet one kind man passing by, rather than judging, instead stopped to ask if Natalie was doing ok. “This man, a total stranger, took time out of his day to just chat and ask if I was ok,” Natalie gratefully shared!
The passerby, Ian, met both Natalie and Rudy with smiles, and after learning that Rudy has Autism, proceeded to lay down on the ground next to him: to be his friend. He stayed there and chatted with the little guy until he was able to calm down.
“This man, my hero this morning, saw my son on the floor, and like any other person would assume that he was having a tantrum, he asked my little Roo what his name was. When I explained he didn’t really understand and that he is autistic and has a host of other challenges making this part of the walk difficult, he said, ‘That’s cool I’ll lay down with him.’
“Ian had a warm conversation with Rudy and Natalie the entire time and even held the 5-year-old’s hand as he led her back to her car. Ian was chatting warmly with Rudy and Natalie the entire time, and even held the 5-year-old’s hand as he led her back to her car.
Mothers with autistic children don’t always have it easy, and the kindness of a stranger really added to Natalie and Rudy’s days. “I’m so grateful to this guy Ian that I won’t forget his kindness. “In a world where you can be anything, be nice” Words are easy, these actions are not always so easy. This man lives by words and I couldn’t be more grateful ”.
Natalie hopes that when people see a child having a tantrum, they will judge more slowly and be willing to show compassion and understanding. “If you see a parent in trouble, maybe take the time to say, ‘Are you okay? “Don’t judge the parenting, don’t try to judge the child, just be nice.
We all go our own way and travel the best we can, sometimes it takes a moment of kindness from a complete stranger to change your day completely. Thank you Ian at Southend Sea Front, you really are a kind man. ”