‘I was crying my eyes out, rocking back and forth, my body shook in terror’: Autistic man shares incredible experience with airline

“This is David. He works for American Airlines. I will never forget this man for as long as I live.

After having my flight delayed and missing my connection for the second time in two days, I succumbed to the worst meltdown of my life at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. He happened to find me curled up behind a vacant ticket counter.

I was crying my eyes out, rocking back and forth as my muscles convulsed at a rapid pace. Sweating profusely, I was hyperventilating while my body shook in terror.

David calmly approached me, and with the utmost compassion, he asked me what was wrong. I was barely able to get any words out. I believe I mumbled the words ‘I don’t know. I can’t think, I have autism.’ He crouched down beside me and let me know there was still a way I could get to Cincinnati late that night, therefore making it possible for me to give my speech the next day.

During a time of indescribable mental torment and anguish, this man showed me compassion. This man showed that he cared. Hell, he even offered to buy me a slice of pizza for lunch!

David offered to reroute my flight, and he gave me some time to think about it, for I told him I was afraid of exacerbating my symptoms by boarding another flight, i.e. a tightly enclosed space filled with vast amounts of stimuli.

After about 10 minutes, David approached me again, this time accompanied by the pilot of the plane I had the choice of boarding. David had notified the pilot, along with the entire crew, of my situation, and he took it upon himself to clear out a whole row of seats so that I would be able to have space to myself during the flight. The pilot was also incredibly kind, reminding me that what I was experiencing only added validity to the message I spread. To the lives I touch.

I ended up deciding to board the flight. I was the very first to board, and David walked onto the plane with me, introducing me to the flight crew one by one. I was still shaking and crying, but this time I was crying tears of thankfulness. If it hadn’t been for David, I would not have gotten on that plane.

This post isn’t about autism. It’s about doing the right thing. About being a good person. About accepting others and reaching out your hand to someone in need, even if they are a total stranger.

Each and every single one of us is a member of society, and it is our OBLIGATION as such a member to support one another, especially during an individual’s time of need.

Show what you’re made of. Give a damn. Stand above all the fighting and arguing. Be brave and open your heart. Fulfill your moral duties as a human being.

Be like David.”

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