Mother praises Universal Orlando workers for helping her ‘awesomely autistic’ son

A New York mother went to Facebook to tell the world how Universal Orlando workers helped her son.
A New York mother went to Facebook to tell the world how Universal Orlando workers helped her son. AP

A New York mother recounted the touching tale of how workers at Universal Studios in Orlando gave her “awesomely autistic” son the time of his life, with one rushing to help him through an “autistic meltdown.”

When Lenore Koppelman’s family got to Universal on May 28, her son Ralph was “EXTREMELY excited” to ride the Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure, Koppelman said in the post. Because the ride was near the exit of the park, they decided to do it last.

So, Ralph patiently waited as he rode and enjoyed all the other rides at the park, but all the while his excitement was building up, Koppelman said.

As the big moment finally arrived something unexpected happened. As it was almost their turn to ride the Spiderman ride they were told it had broken down.

Koppelman and her husband saw the coming signs of Ralph having a “autistic meltdown.”

“We could see it coming, like an oncoming train,” she said in the post. “And yet we couldn’t dodge out of the way. There was nowhere else to go.”

Ralph collapsed onto the floor, while people were trying to exit, and began “sobbing, screaming, rocking, hyperventilating and truly struggling to breathe.”

While Koppelman tried to pick her son off the floor, Jen, a Universal worker, rushed over and encouraged her to leave him on the ground. She then got on the floor with him and rested next to him as he continued to cry and eventually calm down.

After, she took him to the gift shop and said he could choose anything he wanted. He decided on a tiny notebook and pen, and an ID tag with his name on it and Spiderman’s face.

When Koppelman asked Jen how she knew how to calm down Ralph, she said everyone at Universal Studios gets special training when it comes to people who are “awesomely autistic.”

Jen wasn’t the only worker who stepped up and made sure Ralph would have a great day at the park.

Koppelman named about four workers who helped her son at restaurants and rides throughout the park, whether by getting to the front of the line or giving him a pencil that he really wanted.

The post was reacted to about 90,000 times and has been shared about 35,000 times on Facebook. Comments on the post ranged from people saying how they loved Ralph’s story to telling their own happy Universal experience.

In one comment, Connie Eickhoff Houk said, “What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing. While reading it, someone started cutting onions near me. Pretty sure!”

Another from Nicole Jefferson Clifton read, “Tears as I sit in front of strangers. What an absolutely beautiful story of people helping your awesome son! Thanks for sharing!”

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.