Often, when you meet a person for the very first time, you really never know how he or she is going to react. This deems to be even truer if you have a disability.
One place where you can count on meeting a person you don’t know is on an airplane. Unless you’ve made plans to travel with someone you know, there’s a great chance you will not know the person sitting next to you. If you’re a person with special needs, you always hope the person next to you is going to be welcoming and accepting.
For seven year old Landon and his mom Alexa, flying can be very stressful, especially when you’re sending your child by himself, and he has autism. Yes, Alexa sent her son Landon on a plane to Portland from Las Vegas to visit his father. This was not Landon’s first time flying but it would be his first time doing so by himself. As you can imagine, Alexa was stressed-out. Let’s face it, the world can be a cruel place and when you have differences, sometimes people can be mean or look at you in a negative light.
Mothers are very protective. Even at the age of 46, my mom is still protective of me. I remember I took a cruise to the Bahamas a few years ago with my favorite guy. When I told my mom I was going, she wasn’t feeling it at all. If I had been going with her, a Super Cooper, a family friend, or someone she knew well, she would have been fine. My mom kept saying, “what if you fall off the boat, you can’t swim”. I would respond, “at least I’ll die happy and having fun”. Thank goodness I didn’t fall off the boat and now she’s not as nervous when I tell her I’m about to go somewhere.
Sometimes parents just have to let go and that’s what Alexa did when she let Landon fly alone. As any good parent, Alexa briefed Landon on what to do and probably had many conversations on appropriate behavior. Alexa even gave Landon a note to give to his seatmate explaining his disability, along with ten dollars to compensate him or her in case of any inconveniences.
Landon’s seatmate was a very nice and accepting man name Ben; who displayed kindness and compassion to the young man. Ben even sent back a note saying what a pleasure it was to sit by Landon and how they passed the time by playing a game. Ben also stated he was going to put the ten dollars to good use by donating it to the Autism Society.
Stories like this really restore my faith in humanity. There are some unpleasant people in the world but by far the decent people outweigh the unpleasant. I’m so happy Ben had an open heart to accept Landon for who he is. I hope his kindness will trickle down into a sometimes unkind society.