After boy with autism melted down at Universal Orlando, an employee knew just what to do

ORLANDO, Fla. – The mother of a boy with autism posted a heartfelt thank you to the Universal Orlando employee whose empathy and training helped calm her son during a meltdown at the park.

Lenore Koppelman said her son, Ralph, had been waiting patiently all day to go on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride in Islands of Adventure, the last island on their visit.

Koppelman said the anticipation was driving him wild, but he was coping, accepting his mother’s promises of “Soon, baby, soon,” with a sigh and an “Ok.”

When they finally got to the Spider-Man ride he was ecstatic – at first.

“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 wrote in a Facebook post.

It was too much for Ralph, who collapsed on the floor.

“He began sobbing, screaming, rocking, hyperventilating, and truly struggling to breathe,” she wrote. “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.”

Then, Koppleman wrote, Jen got down on the floor with her son with him. This is how she described the moment:

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 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.

Not only did she support Ralph until the meltdown passed, she offered to buy him anything less than $50 from the gift shop. He chose 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.”

When asked how she knew what to do in that situation, Jen said she and other Universal employees had been given special training to help visitors with autism.

” I hugged her for the LONGEST time… several times, if I’m being honest,” Koppleman 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.”

She also thanked several others who made the trip a success, despite Ralph not being able to experience the Spider-Man ride.

“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!”

 

 

Talkback 16 Online Discussion:

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

6 comments

    • StateLionPro

      I tend to stay away from the comments section on feel good stories, because they always end up ruining the story. But after reading your comment, I decided to click on the image above to find more about the family. Two clicks from this article, you see the kid holding up a special olympics medal on the Mother’s facebook page. Maybe think twice before posting asinine comments, like suggesting a mother gives her child an “arse” kicking at Universal Studios in the middle of an autistic meltdown. Here’s some terminology for you. heartless moronism.

    • ginag420 (@TwiZtid_LoVe420)

      How could you be so heartless…Autism is a real disability and yes, something that simple could set a them off. Imagine how frustrated kids with no disabilities get in those long lines. You should only ever hope you never have a child with disabilities and praise the parents who do and love them no matter what. Keep your comments to yourself. This was just a light-hearted story and there is always one or two people who have to try and ruin it.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.