A heartwarming story of an autistic four-year-old boy having a meltdown during a flight and crew and passengers offering to help is putting a smile on many faces this morning.
Braysen usually loves to fly, but he had a meltdown on a United Airlines flight from San Diego to Houston. His mother, Lori Gabriel of Cypress, Texas, said, Braysen took off his seat belt before takeoff, and wanted to sit on the floor.
Gabriel said that it was impossible to control him, as he was fighting both her and his father, and it was a big task for both of them to get him back to his chair and get his seat belt back on. He started kicking, screaming and hitting,” said Gabriel.
“That’s when a flight attendant came over and told us the flight couldn’t take off until he’s seated.”
“I told her the boy has autism, we’re trying, give us a minute.”
The flight attendant went away and brought back two other flight attendants who wanted to help them out. Gabriel said that they let Braysen sit on her lap for takeoff while the father held him. Then, after the seat belt sign was turned off, she let him off because he was screaming and fighting her. So the crew allowed him to sit on the floor, next to them. “When he’s overstimulated, the vibration makes him feel better,” Gabriel said.
The boy kicked a passenger sitting across from them, she was a United Airlines’ flight attendant who wasn’t working during the flight. but she said it was okay if he kicks her feet, Gabriel said.
Braysen then went to first class and kicked a man’s seat, so Gabriel said sorry to the man, but he said he didn’t mind, and introduced himself to Braysen and gave him high fives. He said ‘he can kick my chair, I don’t care.’
He was loved in the first class, with everyone asking his name, showing him pictures on their phones, letting him sit whenever he wanted, Gabriel said. “The flight attendants kept asking if we needed anything, making sure everybody was taken care of.”
Finally before leaving, the off duty light attendant gave Gabriel a hug and a handwritten note in which she praised her for her strength. “You and your family are loved and supported,” reads the note. It said, “Do not ever let anyone make you feel as though you are an inconvenience or a burden. He is a blessing,” the note goes on “God bless your patience, your love, your support and your strength. Continue to be a super woman.”
Gabriel shared the note on Facebook along with pictures of Braysen on the flight and a shout-out to United. United Airlines also tweeted in response: “It sure sounds like Braysen and your family had a great flight. We are happy that our crew was able to make it an enjoyable experience. We are overjoyed to see that we have such loving and supportive passengers on board as well! We look forward to seeing Braysen again soon!”
Gabriel said that Braysen usually liked to fly, but this was his first long flight, as the family were going back home from San Diego, where they’ve been on holiday. “I’m just overwhelmed from all this kindness, it makes me want to cry,” she said.
“For the first time, people have been very understanding and helpful about Braysen’s autism. It’s very promising, we don’t have to care about what other people think because there are people who are caring, who understand. It gives me a lot of hope for the future.”
So my little flyer (he’s autistic but normally loves to fly) didn’t have such a good flight home. …
United Airlines have really set the bar very high with their love and kindness towards Braysen and his family. May their tribe increase.