A Universal Orlando employee sprang into action when an autistic boy had a “meltdown” at the theme park. The boy’s mother shared a touching thank you to the employee following her actions.
Lenore Koppelman shared in a Facebook post that her son, Ralph, is “awesomely autistic” and was patiently waiting all day to go on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride in the Islands of Adventure, which is the last ride on their visit.
Her son was anxiously awaiting their turn on the ride. Koppelman explained that Ralph was doing extremely well with the long waiting time, that he accepted her promises of “Soon, baby. Soon,” with a sigh and “Ok.”
“He was SO patient for SO long. As patient as he possibly could be. He would say ‘Okay’ and sigh, and then enjoy the next ride. But all the while, the excitement was building up to the pinnacle of his day: The Spiderman ride near the exit of Islands of Adventure,” she wrote.
When the time seemed to have finally arrived, Ralph was ecstatic.
She wrote that Ralph “was leaping for joy. He thought ‘OH WOW! This is IT! FINALLY!’ and you should have seen the SMILE on his face. It was incredible.”
However, things took a turn.
After boy with autism melted down at Universal Orlando, an employee knew just what to do https://t.co/lfWbFkjYN6
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) June 7, 2019
“Then when it was almost our turn to board, and he could see the end in sight, the vehicles right in front of us, we got the news that the ride had broken down,” Koppelman explained.
The news, after all the time spent waiting, was too much for Ralph.
He collapsed on the floor.
“He began sobbing, screaming, rocking, hyperventilating, and truly struggling to breathe,” she wrote.
Amidst the confusion—with people trying to exit, people gawking, and Ralph sobbing—an employee appeared.
“A woman who worked there named Jen came over… no… no, she RUSHED over… and while I frantically kept trying to get him to stand up so he wouldn’t get trampled on by people, she encouraged me to leave him on the floor if that is where he needed to be,” Koppelman wrote.
She went on to explain the moment.
“Then she did this. She got down on the floor WITH HIM. She rested next to him while he cried his heart out, and she helped him breathe again. She spoke to him so calmly, and while he screamed and sobbed, she gently kept encouraging him to let it all out,” she wrote.
“She told people to keep on walking around them, so they would stop standing there and staring. And then she told him it was okay for him to be sad and feel this way. She understood. She would feel the same way too. His feelings were validated. And she told him he could lay there with her as long as he needed to until he felt better,” Koppelman added.
After Ralph had calmed down, Jen told Ralph he could get anything from the gift shop under $50 for free.
Ralph picked out a small notebook and pen, along with an ID tag with his name and Spider-Man’s face on it.
“She suggested some other toys that were even more expensive, and he looked at her and said ‘No thanks, I’m good.’ And he SMILED. And THANKED her,” Koppelman wrote.
What a great story. It will be so wonderful when this kind of support is in place everywhere. #CANNOTwait After boy with autism melted down at Universal Orlando, an employee knew just what to do https://t.co/kxbftuf24i
— Jenny Loveless (@JennyLovelessR) June 8, 2019
Koppelman was amazed by Jen’s actions. She said when she asked how she knew what to do, Jen said she and other Universal employees all went through special training to help visitors with autism.
“I hugged her for the LONGEST time… several times, if I’m being honest,” Koppelman wrote. “And then the entire family left the store and marched straight over to customer relations without a single pit-stop, to sing Jen’s praises.”
Koppelman also thanked several others in her post who all helped make the trip a success, despite the Spider-Man ride breaking down.
“We will save up for another trip to Universal, either in Florida or LA, and we will go to the Spider-Man ride FIRST. They DEFINITELY have a repeat customer in us!” she concluded the post.