Mother praises ‘hero’ stranger for lying on the pavement with her autistic son to stop him having a meltdown
- Natalie Fernando, 44, praised a ‘hero’ stranger she met in Southend-on-Sea
- Natalie, from Essex, with her autistic son Rudy, five, when he had a ‘meltdown’
- Taking to Facebook, she said strangers were ‘tutting’ and ‘staring’ at her son
- But stranger Ian stopped and lay down on the floor with Rudy to help calm him
- Natalie praised the ‘kind’ man for saving Rudy from an ‘hour-long meltdown’
A mother has praised a ‘hero’ stranger who stepped in to help prevent her autistic son from having an ‘hour-long’ meltdown while she was out for a walk.
Natalie Fernando, 44, from Essex, was walking along the seafront in Southend-on-Sea with her son Rudy, five, when he became agitated at having to turn around, something he frequently struggles with.
Natalie said Rudy lay down on the floor while strangers began ‘tutting’ and ‘staring’ at the mother-and-son, despite Natalie apologising for her son making ‘loud noises’.
But a stranger, who she later found out was called Ian, stopped to ask if everything was OK before lying on the floor with Rudy and then walking them back to their car.
Posting on her Facebook page Better to be Different, where she shares the ‘highs and lows of life’ with her autistic son, she said that Ian’s actions saved her from Rudy having ‘a meltdown lasting up to an hour or more’.
Natalie Fernando, 44, from Essex, has praised ‘heroic’ stranger Ian (above) for laying on the floor in Southend-on-Sea with her autistic son Rudy, five, to help calm him down
Taking to Facebook, Natalie explained that Rudy had become agitated about turning around, something he frequently struggles with, while strangers were ‘staring’ and ‘tutting’
Praising him as a hero, she wrote: ‘I wish there were more of this man around and I am beyond thankful.’
She explained that she’d taken Rudy for a walk along the seagront to allow him to ‘express himself outdoors’, and only minutes before the stranger’s intervention, they 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 apologising for my son’s loud noises.’
She added that, ‘short of gagging him, I’m not sure of an alternative.’
The mother explained that Rudy ‘loves to walk’ but ‘hates’ to turn around, which can lead to a ‘meltdown’, something that proved difficult for Natalie after her son has spent two weeks out of school.
She continued: ‘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 favourite 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 two weeks out of school today was too much for him and me.’
Natalie explained that Ian (pictured with Rudy) walked her and her son all the way back to the car and saved Rudy from having a ‘meltdown lasting up to an hour or more’
She said that Ian must have assumed that Rudy was having a tantrum and asked him his name, when Natalie then explained that her son is autistic and ‘didn’t really understand’.
But she said the ‘hero’ then lay down on the floor with her son and chatted with them both until Rudy was able to walk back to their car.
She wrote: ‘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”.
‘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.
‘It’s said a lot at the moment, “In a world where you can be anything be kind”. Words are easy, these actions are not always so easy. This man is living the words and I couldn’t be more grateful.’
Natalie, who also has a daughter Eden, 14, and stepdaughters Eva and Layla, urged other people not to ‘judge’ if they see a parent struggling and take the time to ask if they are OK.
She continued: ‘If you see a parent struggling, maybe take the time to say, “Are you OK?” don’t judge the parenting, try not to judge the child, just be kind.
‘We’re all walking our own path and navigating the journey the best we can, sometimes it takes a moment of kindness from a complete stranger to completely change your day.
‘Thanks Ian from Southend Sea Front, you truly are a kind man… [heart emoji]’
Natalie, who also has a daughter Eden, 14, and stepdaughters Eva and Layla, urged other people not to ‘judge’ if they see a parent struggling and take the time to ask if they are OK
After sharing her story on Facebook, people were quick to praise Ian for his ‘fantastic’ actions as well as praising Natalie for doing an ‘amazing job’ as a mother
Speaking to Manchester Evening News, Natalie later explained that she is used to people staring and making comments when she is out with Rudy.
She continued: ‘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.
‘I would’ve welcomed all of them to chat with me about Rudy and what and why he’s doing what he is, but too often people are too quick to judge without the facts.’
After sharing her story on Facebook, people were quick to praise Ian for his ‘fantastic’ actions as well as praising Natalie for doing an ‘amazing job’ as a mother.
One person wrote: ‘Beautiful human being, hope you are OK too.’
A second commented: ‘Not all super hero’s wear capes. Great job Ian’
While a third gushed: ‘Such kindness Ian well done! And mum you’re doing an amazing job too xx’
A fourth penned: ‘That’s awesome people should not judge children autistic children like things in their own certain way what a lovely thing to do lovely man.’
Natalie shares her experiences as a mother on her Facebook page and Instagram account, @bettertobedifferent.
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