Mum thanks stranger for lying on floor to stop her autistic son having a ‘meltdown’

<p>Rudy with kind stranger Ian who lay down next to him</p>

Rudy with kind stranger Ian who lay down next to him

Facebook/Better to be Different

A mother’s heartfelt thank you to a stranger who helped prevent her autistic through a moment of panic has gone viral on Facebook.

Natalie Fernando, 44, was with five-year-old Rudy at the seafront in Southend-on-Sea when he became unsettled at having to turn back around during their walk.

In the post, Natalie said that this kind of unexpected change in course can “often lead to a meltdown.”

Distressed, Rudy began to lie down on the floor while passersby “tutted” and “stared” at the pair, despite Natalie apologising for her son’s “loud noises.”

But one kind stranger, named Ian, went over to ask her if she was alright. He then proceeded to join Rudy, lying down on the floor alongside him and afterwards walked them both back to their car.

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In a lengthy message shared via her Facebook page Better to be Different, the 44-year-old explained how Rudy’s autism can cause him to be overwhelmed in certain situations.

She then described how Ian’s intervention saved them from “a meltdown lasting up to an hour or more, or the alternative which is usually a bit of a beating from my boy who totally loses himself when he has a meltdown and can become very aggressive.”

Posting a photo of Rudy with Ian, she added: “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’.”

The post has garnered more than 87,000 likes and 6,500 comments since Monday.

Natalie told Indy100 how she was “speechless” at the impact it had had.

“To me it is something we deal with every day so to see the post resonate with so many people and to be reaching those who want to know what to do in that situation is totally overwhelming,” she said.

“I’m beyond happy that my little boy and this fabulous guy Ian have had this amazing opportunity to spread awareness about something I am so passionate about, to be able to live inclusively in a world where no one is judged.”

Rudy with mum, Natalie.

Scores of well-wishers shared their admiration for Ian, with one writing: “This made me cry, what a lovely guy x.”

Another commented: “If only all people reacted the same way.... xx.”

And another added: “Wonderful, well done Ian, the world needs more understanding people like you who care.”

Natalie ended her post with some thoughtful advice: “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.”

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