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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mother of Boy with Autism Blown Away by 1 Act of Kindness from a Stranger

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When you’re a parent and your kiddo is having a difficult time in public, it’s easy to think that everyone is judging you. If your kid throws a fit, starts screaming, or is otherwise behaving in a way you’d prefer they did not, it can be embarrassing.

And a lot of people are judgmental. But not everyone watching is so condemning — some get it and feel sympathy or compassion.

That’s how one anonymous good Samaritan felt on May 2 when she was shopping at a Walmart in Knoxville, Tennessee, and a young boy nearby had a breakdown.

That boy was Norris, 3, and Ashley Fox is his mother. As the two shopped, Norris, who has autism and is nonverbal, spotted a stuffed animal and fell in love with it.

The problem occurred when Fox got to the checkout and the toy was more expensive than she’d thought. She put it back — but the turn of events upset Norris terribly.

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Fox did her best to usher her son to their car, but she said there was quite a scene.

“That’s when Norris just had a meltdown,” Fox said, according to WVLT. “I rushed out of Walmart as fast as I could, obviously he was screaming and crying and — like we had spoke earlier — like I looked like I was kidnapping my own child, like it was bad.”

But that good Samaritan had seen what had gone down and made the decision to purchase the toy herself and gift it to Norris.

“The lady comes up behind me and she pulls this puppy out, and she says, ‘Is this what he was wanting?’ and I said, ‘Oh my god, yes it is,’ and I hand it to him and he just calmed down, I’m able to buckle up,” Fox said.

“And it was great. I thanked her and I offered to pay for this puppy and she wouldn’t let me. She said that she understood, that she has kids.

“I just really want her to know that it made his night and made his day, like as you can see, he won’t put it down. He’s obsessed with it. He loves it. And I just think it was a really beautiful thing that she did.”

Fox alluded to a post that appears to have since been taken down, saying that she was very grateful for that woman’s kindness — not just for not judging her, but for going above and beyond to make Norris’ (and, by extension, Fox’s) day.

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“When I made this post, I did not expect it to grow up the way that it did, but, you know, I’m so glad because people, they’re just comforting and they love the story and I love that because this lady also, I just really hope she sees it, I just, I really want her to know just how wonderful she really was,” Fox said.

“This woman, she didn’t judge, she literally — she just helped me. And I think that that is just a lesson learned for everybody because if more people were like that I feel like we have a lot less negativity.”

Fox’s mother, Diane Fox, shared WVLT’s story on social media.

“Thank you to WVLT for sharing my daughter Ashley and grandson Norris’s heart warming story,” she wrote on Facebook.

“They will also be doing something else with it also WVLT said. Just in case you missed it. Here it is.”

In our society, there’s a lot of mom-shaming that goes on and more than enough guilting to go around. Seeing one mom stand up for and help another in a time of need is a beautiful thing, and should be an encouragement to other moms and an example of how to show solidarity and support.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking