PATRICIA DROWN, San Clemente

Some of the classes I teach are about crisis intervention. Not just the kind of a crisis to which FEMA should respond, but the crises that occur in everyday life, where people like you and I can make all the difference if we are willing to meet people where they are.

I read recently that an autistic child was visiting Universal Orlando resort with his family. All he wanted to do was get to his hero, Spiderman. He patiently followed his parents through the park, saw other things, and perhaps even enjoyed them. But there was an often-repeated question (“Is Spiderman next?”), followed by a sigh when the answer was “not yet.” When the family finally arrived at the attraction, they were told it was closed for repairs. The child’s dam broke and he, as his mom put it, had a full meltdown. He was down on the ground, screaming, crying and letting the world know that this was just not right. His family knew there was no way to stem this tide. Enter a young employee from Universal. Instead of demanding that the child be removed so that people could pass, she got down on the ground beside him, politely told the gawkers to move along, and asked for no pictures to be taken. She quietly told her new friend to “let it all out.” And there they stayed until he was ready to move on.

Being “awesomely autistic” is how this mom refers to her son. Being awesomely aware of what one person could do to help this child is something we can all learn from. For families with autistic children, may there always be someone who is willing to come alongside and just be there.

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