Photos of Universal employee lying down next to boy amid 'autistic meltdown' go viral
Orlando Sentinel - 6/10/2019
Jun. 10--A woman took to Facebook to share a heartwarming tale after a Universal Orlando employee laid down next to her autistic son to help calm him after the Spider-Man ride broke down at Islands of Adventure.
Lenore Koppelman posted the images of her son Ralph showing him in distress on the floor at the attraction, but laying alongside him is an employee Koppelman said was named Jen.
"Ralph is awesomely autistic, and we are proud to be a neurodiverse family," reads a post alongside the photos. "As wonderful, loving, intelligent and incredible as Ralph is, sometimes he struggles. (Don't we all?) When he struggles the hardest, he can have something known as an 'autistic meltdown.'"
Koppelman's post explains her son spent the entire day looking forward to riding The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at the park, but that it was the last ride of the day for the family. Unfortunately, after getting through the park, and waiting for their chance to get on the ride, it had broken down. The post has more than 100,000 reactions since it went up on May 29.
"When we finally got back to Spiderman, he was leaping for joy. He thought "OH WOW! This is IT! FINALLY!" and you should have seen the SMILE on his face. It was incredible. 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. Everyone was very nicely asked to exit. And Ralph, understandably, lost it. (Wouldn't you?)," reads the post.
At that point, Ralph fell to the floor while the crowd of people exiting the ride walked around him. That's when the story has a heartwarming turn.
"He began sobbing, screaming, rocking, hyperventilating, and truly struggling to breathe. 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," the post read. "Then she did this. She got down on the floor WITH HIM. 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. "
The story continues that Ralph did calm down, and the family was very thankful for the intervention by the park employee.
"The entire family left the store and marched straight over to customer relations without a single pit-stop, to sing Jen's praises. I showed the sweet woman working there the photos of Jen with Ralph, and she got misty-eyed herself, and hugged me. We showed each other our goosebumps on our arms and laughed and hugged yet again. And she ALSO told me how much training they get when it comes to helping people with various special needs," reads the post.
Unfortunately, Ralph never did get to ride the Spider-Man attraction.
"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," reads the post.
Read the whole post at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10218244453004866&set=a.1323289924437&type=3&theater
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