Mom Cannot Calm Her Autistic Son's Meltdown until a Man Passing by Intervenes

Dayna Remus
Feb 22, 2022
12:20 A.M.

One woman found herself surrounded by contempt as she silently begged for assistance. Would anyone stop to give her a helping hand?


Being a parent is a full-time job. Yet, sometimes, without even knowing the mother or father, many of us judge their choices from the outside.

In 2021, a 44-year-old Natalie Fernando from Essex, England, experienced this public shaming first hand, as she helplessly looked around only to be met with eyes full of disgust.

Ian lying on the ground with 5-year-old Rudy. │Source: facebook.com/bettertobedifferent

Ian lying on the ground with 5-year-old Rudy. │Source: facebook.com/bettertobedifferent


The mom shared her story on her Facebook page, "Better to be Different." Fernando recalled how she and her autistic son Rudy, or "Roo" as she affectionately refers to him, were going for a walk:

"My son loves to walk, but he hates to turn around and walk back; we usually try to walk in a circuit to avoid this, but on his favorite walk...we have no choice but to turn back."


Struggling with this, the little boy had a meltdown, and instead of receiving assistance, passersby treated her and her son with silent disdain.


This was with the exception of Ian Shelley, who was in the middle of training for a race. Instead of judgment, he stopped and inquired about the situation. Of Shelley’s reaction to finding out that Roo's autistic, the Facebook user penned:

"He said, 'That's cool. I'll lay down with him.'"


Once Roo was okay, the kind stranger walked the mother and son back to their vehicle, engaging in a conversation as they did so.


Part of the mom's "Better to be Different" Facebook page's purpose is to make the public aware of autism. This particular post certainly did so with 7000 comments, one reading:

"When my son did the same in a supermarket, an elderly lady told me to give him a smack that would sort him out. There is little understanding of...autism and ADHD."


Most of the comments were supportive, commending Shelley for his kind actions. The post also racked up 97,000 reactions and 34,000 shares.


The 49-year-old Shelley has since spoken about his gesture, emphasizing the importance of kindness and its domino effect. Fernando did the same in her Facebook post, writing:

"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."


Most of us are guilty of judging those around us, especially when we are in a bad mood. This urge is human. But, we should still make a conscious effort to put aside assumptions and help where possible.



As one can see with Fernando and Roo, many individuals tend to make snap judgments of what they don't understand. This refusal to learn leaves those on the other side of this ignorance isolated and hurt.

Autistic teenage boy Daniel Harrison was the target of this disregard, with no one to call a friend. One of the teen's wishes was to have some companions for his birthday. Taking to Twitter, his dad explained the situation.

He asked other users to please wish his boy a Happy Birthday and show him some love. Good-intentioned wishes came pouring out from all over the internet, including from celebrities such as Russell Crowe.

It was kind of these individuals and stars to be proactive. However, a father should not have to ask others to befriend his son, and a mother should not be ashamed for something she can't control.

Instead, we as a society should make a conscious effort to learn about autism and neurodiversity in general -- a practice that would enrich the lives of everybody.

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