Parents are all too aware of those around them when their kids throw a temper tantrum. They feel the stares, the judgment of both them and their parenting skills, and the utter impatience of total strangers. They are sensitive to the strength and volume of their child’s screams more than anyone else.
Outbursts are normal, but in situations where those forced to witness the meltdown can’t vacate the space with the loud and annoying child, the adult responsible for their care is often deemed incapable of controlling their behavior.
Most strangers reluctantly deal with the noisy kid. Most would never think to offer help – they let the kid have their cry while condemning the adult.
When a child like five-year-old Jack Pealling, who has ADHD and autism, has an outburst in public, his mother, Gayna, knows all too well how it feels when others judge her.
Jack has a little sister, Amy, who is four years old. One day, while traveling on the train in Great Britain, Amy, Jack and their mother were unable to take their usual, direct train. Instead, they had to change trains to reach their destination.
Jack didn’t handle this slight adjustment to their routine well. He couldn’t deal with the noise, crowds, or extra travel time. The little boy became upset and started having a meltdown.
This wasn’t your usual tantrum. Jack began to swear and kick the chair in front of him. His yells drew tuts and rude stares from fellow passengers. Their judgment didn’t lessen, even when Gayna tried to explain her son’s condition.
The situation culminated when Gayna attempted to give Jack his ADHD medication. The young boy began to yell even louder.
All of a sudden, an angel in disguise stepped forward.
Daniel Ball, a 21-year-old fellow passenger, saw Jack’s tantrum and decided to see if he could do anything to help. He caught Jack’s attention and began to interact with the little boy, telling him, “I take tablets so how about you show me how to take them?”
Jack readily agreed and took his medication, but Daniel didn’t stop there. He sat down by Jack and Amy. During the long train ride, Daniel colored, played games, and chatted with the little ones, letting Gayna have a break.
Gayna described her relief at having this angel step in: “We were on the train for about an hour and Dan just passed me my hot drink and said ‘I’ve got it,'” she recalled.
Gayna posted photos of Daniel playing with her kids on Facebook and the pictures have since been liked and shared thousands of times.
This incident has also brought about a call to action. Barbara Ball, Daniel’s mother, is an expert in special education needs and disabilities. She was inspired by her son’s experience to create the “Come To My Rescue” campaign.
“The campaign seeks to raise awareness among the general public of the desperation that parents often feel when their children with special needs have meltdowns,” she wrote. “Many observers would like to help or to show support to the parent but are afraid of interfering.
“Offering help or even just a smile to a parent in public while their child is having a meltdown could make all the difference. Instead of adding to the stress the parent already feels, find out how you can ‘come to their rescue.'”
We’re all so focused on our own goals and lives that we become impatient with anyone who disrupts our day. We fail to realize parents of children with special needs have their days interrupted all the time. Would it hurt to offer a kind word, a smile, or a helping hand to someone who is struggling?
Hopefully, Daniel’s heroic actions that day will inspire many others to show kindness and lend a helping hand when it is needed.
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