Public meltdowns are never easy on parents, but sometimes a stranger comes along and makes them a little bit more bearable. This was the case for Lenore Koppelman, mom to an "awesomely autistic" little boy named Ralph, during a recent trip to Universal Orlando Resort.
The mom shared a post detailing her experience, which took a turn for the worse when her son had a major meltdown, and the sweet way employees at the park showed up to make things better for Ralph and his family.
Like most kids, Ralph was incredibly excited to go on a specific ride during his day at the theme park. He remained patient through a long day before he reached the ride of his dreams. When they finally made it to the Spider-man ride (which Ralph had been looking forward to all day), the family collected handicap-access tickets and waited in a cool spot for his turn to board the ride. But sadly, when they approached the ride, they learned it was broken. Parents, you can imagine how this went over with the excited little boy—any kid would be devastated in this situation, and Ralph had a full-on meltdown.
"As wonderful, loving, intelligent and incredible as Ralph is, sometimes he struggles. (Don't we all?) When he struggles the hardest, he can have something known as an 'autistic meltdown'. Some people who are not educated about autism might see it as a temper tantrum," writes Ralph's mom in a Facebook post about the family's experience. "But the fact of the matter is that it is not the act of a spoiled and naughty child. It's a cry for help. This is Ralph's way of saying 'I don't know how to monitor and regulate my emotions right now. I need help, please! I'm scared! I'm overwhelmed! I want to feel better and I don't know how!'. And here came Jen to the rescue."
Jen, an employee at the amusement park swooped in like a real-life superhero. She saw Ralph lying on the ground as his mother tried to lift him up so he wouldn't be stepped on by a passer-by, and she rushed over. She lay on the floor alongside the child and encouraged him to let out all his frustration.
Jen stayed with Ralph until he felt better, then led him to the park's gift shop and allowed him to choose anything up to $50 to take home. According to Lenore's post, other park employees were equally supportive and kind to the family.
"THANK YOU for recognizing that Ralphie is a GREAT kid. A SWEET kid who just struggles with certain things (as we ALL do, neurodiverse or not). THANK YOU for treating him with SO much kindness and patience. THANK YOU to your supervisors and whomever trained you so well. THANK YOU for paying such close attention. THANK YOU for BEING THERE for us today, and for making us feel like Ralph's well-being was your top priority. He is OUR top priority because we love him more than ANYTHING and ANYONE, but you all only just met him today. And yet you behaved as if you were family. And we TRULY cannot thank you enough," writes Lenore.
We can't even imagine how much these incredible gestures must have meant to Ralph and his family. By showing up to save the day like this, Jen and the rest of the team took what could have been an awful day for this child and turned it to a memory he and his family will likely cherish for a long time. Ralph may not have had the chance on the Spider-man ride, but he did have an encounter with a real-life superhero.