The mum of an autistic boy who was helped by a passerby as he became overwhelmed has spoken of the nasty abuse she has received in the past.
Natalie Fernando, 44 and from Hockley, West Midlands, spoke about how people have told dared to tell her that her five-year-old son shouldn’t be allowed out due to him becoming so distressed at times.
The mum recollected her experiences as she posted a picture of stranger Ian Shelley helping her son out as he became overwhelmed on April 12.
In a bid to raise awareness of SEN and what those around them tackle on a daily basis, Natalie described the sort of comments received as she brought up Rudy.
“We’ve had people tell us he shouldn’t be allowed out, that we should ‘Take your child home’ or people say ‘What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you letting him behave like that?’,” she told EssexLive reports.
“We have had stares, tuts, mutters. I remember Rudy having a meltdown in the cinema one time. We had been in the High Street and it was pouring down with rain so we went into the cinema lobby to try and get out.
“People were just standing around staring at this little boy going crazy and not one person said are you okay?”
Sadly the mum said that wasn’t the only time she was left in tears by other people’s indifference.
“So many times it has been really tough, particularly one incident in Sainsburys,” she said.
“My son loves shopping and he likes the up and down of the aisles and I will never forget one time.
“Normally we go upstairs to the cafe and then go down to the shop but it was absolutely rammed in the shop.
“My son wears nappy’s and he had wet through so we had quickly changed the nappy and couldn’t stop in the cafe and it all overwhelmed him.
“He dropped to the floor over the escalators so I went down to his level to hold his arms and he head butted me.
“Not a single person stopped to ask if I was okay.”
It took nine months before Natalie found the courage to go out again, realising that she would rather give Rudy the experiences he deserves than allow judgemental people to stop them.
“My son is not going to be excluded from life because of people’s judgement. We take him and we plan what we are doing and take him to all different types of places.
“I feel we have a duty to Rudy to help him learn and understand the world around him and I feel I have duty to others to educate them in special needs so Rudy can live in a more inclusive world.”
The mum last week took to social media to share how passerby Ian Shelley had brightened her days when he stopped to ask if everything was okay as Rudy grew increasingly overwhelmed.
“Ian had no idea about that and that is why it meant so much to me. It’s only a simple gesture but it meant a lot to me,” she said.
Natalie added: “The meltdown is what everyone sees, they perceive it as ‘bad behaviour’ or a child ‘out of control’ or a parent who doesn’t know how to handle them – they don’t see the distress that child is in after a tantrum or me cradling him after he has maybe hit me or punched me.
“He doesn’t want to do that but doesn’t know what to do because he is so overwhelmed.
“Ian saved Rudy from that distress – he stopped a chain of events from happening that he would have known nothing about.”
Natalie called on people to be “a bit more like Ian” and less judgemental about people with special needs.
“The people that do not have special needs people in their life need to just stop judging and people in SEN need to stop judging people that want to help you genuinely and sincerely too.”