A student raised his hand and asked to speak to the class. His teacher never imagined the beautiful moment that would unfold next.
Humankind, USA TODAY
Lenore Koppelman took her autistic son Ralph to Universal Orlando Resort for the first time − and experienced something she’ll never forget: overwhelming kindness from park employees.
As she wrote in a May 29 Facebook post that has been shared 40,000 times, Ralph was very excited to go on the Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure. He waited and waited and waited, and “the anticipation was driving him wild!”
When they finally got to the ride, Ralph received some bad news. “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. “Everyone was very nicely asked to exit. And Ralph, understandably, lost it. (Wouldn’t you?). My husband and I know the signs. We could see it coming, like an oncoming train.”
Ralph proceeded to collapse “onto the floor while crowds of people were attempting to exit the ride and the gift shop attached to it. He began sobbing, screaming, rocking, hyperventilating, and truly struggling to breathe.”
But just as soon as the chaos began, a worker named Jen stepped in to make Ralph feel better.
“She got down on the floor WITH HIM,” Koppelman wrote. “She rested next to him while he cried his heart out, and she helped him breathe again…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.”
Jen told him he could stay there with her until he started to feel better, which he eventually did, and she even let him pick out something from the gift shop.
But how did Jen know how to calm Ralph down so well? “She told me that everyone at Universal Studios gets special training when it comes to people who are awesomely autistic, as well as other special needs,” wrote Koppelman, who proceeded to thank all the other employees who helped Ralph during the trip.
“A message to all of the people who work at Universal Studios: Please read this and know that my family and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” she wrote. “I know Ralphie does too.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Universal Orlando for comment.
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