The man also took time out of his day to just chat and ask if the mom was okay.
Natalie Fernando, who lives in Essex, was walking along the seafront with her son Rudy who suddenly became agitated at the thought of having to go back. The 5-year-old who is autistic refused to go back and ended up lying on the floor. Many people who passed by tutted and frowned at what they thought was a child having a tantrum. Until one kind stranger decided to see if the mom and son were okay. Natalie met the man on one of their regular walks at Southend-on-Sea, and his kind act was about to make a huge difference.
Natalie explained her son's condition and "a host of other challenges making this part of the walk difficult". After a while, Ian, as she later discovered was the stranger's name, lay down with the toddler and chatted with him. Rudy got on his feet and Ian dropped them back to their car. Natalie detailed the encounter in a heartfelt Facebook post. She wrote: This man, a total stranger was my hero this morning and after laying with Roo then walked Rudy and I all the way back to our car. I wish there were more of this man around and I am beyond thankful.
Natalie explained that while her son "loves to walk" he hates to turn around and walk back. She said that they "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. 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. 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."
The 44-year-old also had some advice to anyone who might see a parent and child in a similar situation. She wrote: 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...
Speaking to the M.E.N's Manchester Family, Natalie said a lot of people have been not as nice as Ian. "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," added Natalie."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. Restaurants are the hardest so we only go places where we know the people. Rudy has a unique ability if you give him the chance to charm you and if we go to regular places they get to know him and that then works for us. It would be easy to say just don’t go, but our little Roo has to live in this world so we can’t shut him away, we have to take him and teach him how to experience and how to manage so he can enjoy life."
Now, her story of the meeting has gone viral and she hopes to spread awareness on the issue. "I’ve been so surprised by the response, blown away and totally overwhelmed. My main objective is to raise awareness which is why I have the page and to help other parents of SEN not feel alone and I really had no idea that this post would have this reactions, it’s amazing, I’m so happy to have this opportunity to help others understand what’s really going on," the mom said.