Mum thanks 'hero' stranger for lying on the pavement to calm her autistic son

15 April 2021, 10:46 | Updated: 15 April 2021, 10:50

A  man has been hailed as a 'hero' after he lay down on the pavement to help an autistic boy
A man has been hailed as a 'hero' after he lay down on the pavement to help an autistic boy. Picture: Facebook/Better to be Different/Natalie Fernando
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

A man has been praised for lying on the floor to stop an autistic boy becoming distressed.

One mum has thanked a total stranger after he stepped in to help keep her autistic son calm.

Natalie Fernando, 44, was walking along the seafront in Southend-on-Sea with her five-year-old son Rudy when he started to get upset.

As Rudy then lay down on the floor, passer-by Ian Shelley stopped to chat to the family.

When Natalie explained to him that Rudy was autistic, Mr Shelley said to the little boy: "Fine then, why don't I lay down here with you for a while?"

Natalie - who blogs on Facebook to help parents of children with special needs - admitted she was ‘blown away’ by his kindness and ‘will not forget it’.

This man, a total stranger saved me today from either a meltdown lasting up to an hour or more or the alternative which...

Posted by Better to be Different on Monday, April 12, 2021

She explained on the page ‘Better to be Different’: "This man, my hero this morning saw my son on the floor and like any other person would assume that he was having a tantrum, he asked my little Roo what his name was.

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"When I explained he didn’t really understand and that he is autistic and has a host of other challenges making this part of the walk difficult he said, that’s cool I’ll lay down with him.

“He then proceeded to chat with us whilst walking back to the car. I am so thankful to this chap Ian, I will not forget his kindness.

“It’s said a lot at the moment, ‘in a world where you can be anything, be kind’ words are easy, these actions are not always so easy. This man is living the words and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

She added: “If you see a parent struggling, maybe take the time to say, ‘are you ok’ don’t judge the parenting, try not to judge the child, 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.

“Thanks Ian from Southend Sea Front, you truly are a kind man...”

Natalie's post has now been liked more than 75k times and shared by 27k people.

One person commented: “That's amazing. I've often been in that situation with my 8 year old and the number of people who walk past me staring and tutting is unbelievable. So glad there are some out there that are more understanding x”

“Brought a lump to my throat. Ian sir, you are one of a kind,” wrote another, while a third added: “Wow what a brilliant thing to do instead of judging to help so very kind xx”.

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