Shanell Mouland and her husband Al have a 3-year old daughter Kate. Kate has autism. They blog about their experiences at goteamkate.com.  They recently published a letter to a stranger who sat next to Kate on a plane coming back from Disney.  The letter is going viral.

I read this letter and started to tear up. It made me wonder how I would be in a similar situation. I only hope that the good person inside me would come out, like this anonymous business man...

“Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly”:

The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and she liked the feel of it. You smiled at her and she said: “Hi, Daddy, that’s my mom.” Then she had you.

You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that ‘smile’ that I despise because it means; ‘manage your child please.’ You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored by you that she keep eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about. I watched and smiled. I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would have none of it.

Kate: (Upon noticing you had an IPad) Is dis Daddy’s puduter?

You: This is my IPad. Would you like to see it?

Kate: To me?????? (I know she thought you were offering it to her to keep)

Me: Look with your eyes, Kate. That is not yours.

Kate: Dat’s nice!

You: (Upon noticing that Kate had an IPad) I like your computer, too. It has a nice purple case.

Kate: Daddy wanna be a bad guy? (She offered shredder to you and that, my friend, is high praise)

You: Cool.

The interaction went on and on and you never once seemed annoyed. She gave you some moments of peace while she played with her Anna and Elsa dolls. Kind of her to save you from playing barbies, but I bet you wouldn’t have minded a bit. I bet you have little girls, too.

Not long before we landed Kate had reached her limit. She screamed to have her seatbelt off, she screamed for me to open the plane door and she cried repeating, “Plane is cwosed (closed)” over and over. You tried to redirect her attention to her toys. She was already too far gone at this point, but the fact that you tried to help your new little friend made me emotional.

In case, you are wondering. She was fine the moment we stepped off the plane. Thank you for letting us go ahead of you. She was feeling overwhelmed and escaping the plane and a big, long hug was all she needed."