Mom “blown away” by stranger who lay down during autistic son’s meltdown on the beach

Dealing with your child when he or she is having a tantrum is hard for most parents but sometimes dealing with the response from strangers can be harder than the tantrum itself.

Natalie Fernando’s 5-year-old son Rudy has autism and says often her son’s tantrums can become “very aggressive”.

One day while they were taking a walk along the seafront near their home in Essex, England, Rudy became very upset when his mom told him they had to return home.

Natalie said a few passersby had been less than friendly in their response to Rudy’s meltdown until runner Ian Shelley stopped to ask what was wrong.

This Man, A Total StrangerThis man, a total stranger saved me today from either a meltdown lasting up to an hour or…

Posted by Better to be Different on Monday, April 12, 2021

The 44-year-old mom expected it to the be usual explanation she had to give to strangers about her son, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old.

But instead Ian, who was out training for a 250-mile race, stopped to ask the little boy his name.

Natalie was then shocked when she explained that her son was autistic and Ian responded by getting down on the ground to talk to him.

She posted about her experience on Facebook writing: “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 and 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.

Following the phenomenal reach of my post regarding kindness towards Rudy with the lovely Ian and having been able to…

Posted by Better to be Different on Wednesday, April 21, 2021

“He then proceeded to chat with us whilst walking back to the car. I am so thankful to this chap Ian, I will not forget his kindness.”

Natalie often has to adopt this method when Rudy has a tantrum as it helps to calm him down but seeing a total stranger do it was something that she was “blown away” by.

“I was beyond shocked,” Natalie told the BBC. “It’s something I’ve done many times with Rudy in supermarkets, car parks, and shopping malls because it makes Rudy feel that you’re in his world.

‘Kindness really does cost nothing’

“To see someone who knows nothing about Rudy just instinctively do this was so surprising and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”

The big-hearted runner now considers Natalie and Rudy “friends for life,” and said, simply: “Kindness really does cost nothing, also kindness begets kindness.”

Natalie, who blogs about her son’s condition on Facebook to help parents of children with special needs, and to raise awareness, has received more than 90,000 reactions to her post on April 12 and almost 7,000 comments.

I hope this wonderful story inspires others to empathize with other people and know that just taking ten minutes out of your day to stop and show kindness to others can sometimes have a profound effect.

Help us celebrate the wonderful Ian for his kindness that day and the fantastic 5-year-old Rudy by sharing this story.