Share
Lifestyle

When Heartbroken Boy with Autism Melts Down at Theme Park, Kind Employee Knows Just What To Do

Share

Family trips to theme parks can be stressful. Whether you have a child with special needs or not, a good time can quickly turn exhausting and frustrating no matter who you are.

Kids melt down. Ride break down. Character lines get cut off and parades get cancelled. There are plenty of things that can go wrong in any number of ways.

Parents of children with autism face extra challenges when it comes to traveling and vacations. What might appear as a temper tantrum to some is really what mom and makeup artist Lenore Koppelman calls “a cry for help.”



“Some people who are not educated about autism might see it as a temper tantrum,” Koppelman wrote on Facebook. “But the fact of the matter is that it is not the act of a spoiled and naughty child. It’s a cry for help.”

Trending:
Update: FBI Raids COVID Testing Company Accused of Falsifyng Test Results in $124 Million Cover-Up

Koppelman and her husband Steve were visiting Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure with their 9-year-old “awesomely autistic” son Ralph when a major wrench was thrown into their day.

The mom explained in her heartfelt and vulnerable Facebook post all about their day at the theme park. Ride after ride was leading up to the one thing Ralph wanted to do — The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride which just so happened to be their last stop of the day.



“He was SO patient for SO long. As patient as he possibly could be,” Koppelman wrote of her son. “He would say ‘Okay’ and sigh, and then enjoy the next ride.”

When the time finally came for Ralph and his family to ride The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, he was so excited. Koppelman handed their “handicap-access tickets” to the employee at the attraction and they moved to a cool area to wait their turn to ride.

“The anticipation was driving him wild!” Koppelman shared. “But he did his very best to regulate it with the tools he has been given over the years by his teachers and therapy team at his special needs school back home. They, and he, are all AMAZING.”

And then the time came for Ralph to see what he’d been waiting for all day. But just as he and his mom and dad prepared to board, the ride broke down.

“Everyone was very nicely asked to exit,” Koppelman explained. “And Ralph, understandably, lost it. (Wouldn’t you?).”

Plenty of people stared at the boy, failing to understand what was truly going on. But one person — a theme park employee — saw Ralph’s need and went above and beyond to meet it.

Related:
9-Year-Old Sold as Child Bride Gets Shocking Rescue in Afghanistan

Jennifer Whelchel — also known as “Mama Jen” according to The Washington Post — swooped in and, just like Spider-Man, saved the day.

“She spoke to him so calmly, and while he screamed and sobbed, she gently kept encouraging him to let it all out,” Koppelman wrote of Whelchel. The ride attendant even went as far as lying on the ground beside Ralph, telling other guests to keep walking, ensuring Ralph his feelings were valid.



The stunned and grateful mom went on to share that Whelchel took them into the store connected to the ride’s exit once Ralph calmed down. While she told him he could pick out anything up to $50, “All he wanted was a tiny notebook and pen to write in about the size of my hand, and a tiny ID tag with Spiderman’s face on it and his name,” Koppelman wrote.

She and her husband immediately went to share of Whelchel’s amazing compassion and patience with the park’s customer relations. Many other employees also made a difference in Ralph’s day, and Koppelman took time to praise each of them on Facebook.



The family has made plans to return to Universal Orlando in the future because of the great experience they had. Many who have seen the viral story have offered to start a GoFundMe campaign to ensure Ralph can return and ride Spider-Man, but Koppelman says that’s not what they want.

“Our goal is to educate and inspire people to accept autism, and for the employees of the park to be recognized for the wonderful work they do in their training,” she wrote in a separate post. “And to thank them for being so compassionate.”

Koppelman also added that for anyone who wants to donate, she would rather they direct their funds toward their own vacation to Universal or to any autism charity they choose.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
, , , , , , , ,
Share
Sarah Carri is an avid reader and social media guru with a passion for truth and life. Her writing has previously been published in print and online by Focus on the Family and other well known media outlets. Her experience in ministry and Disney entertainment gives her a unique perspective on such topics.
Sarah Carri is an avid reader and social media guru with a passion for truth and life. Her writing has previously been published in print and online by Focus on the Family and other well known media outlets. Her experience in ministry and Disney entertainment gives her a unique perspective on such topics.

Sarah's experience as a successful working stay-at-home mom and business owner has given her the chance to write and research often. She stays up to date on the latest in entertainment and offers her views on celebrity stories based on her wide knowledge of the industry. Her success as a former preschool teacher and licensed daycare provider lend to her know-how on topics relating to parenting and childhood education.

Her thoughts on faith and family issues stem from home life and ministry work. Sarah takes time to attend workshops and classes annually that help her to improve and hone her writing craft. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature program and her writing has been acclaimed by ACFW and ECPA.
Education
Institute of Children's Literature, Art Institute of Phoenix (Advertising), University of California Irvine (Theater), Snow College (Early Childhood Education)
Location
Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith




Conversation