Flying can be extremely difficult for certain people.
That goes double for frightened children, and triple for frightened children with special needs.
So when a shy Jewish woman from Charlotte heard screams on a long transatlantic flight, she knew something was very wrong. She also knew that given her training, she might be able to help.
On a flight between Brussels and New York, Rochel Groner heard the screaming with 7 hours still left on an 8-hour flight. That screaming was starting to make the passengers uncomfortable, too.
Groner felt drawn to the sounds of distress, as she and her husband run Friendship Circle, which pairs up teen volunteers with kids who have special needs.
So, after 15 minutes of the heartbreaking wailing, Groner finally stood up and decided to see what she could do.
As the Charlotte Observer reported:
“I kind of felt this responsibility, like, I know what this is, but I’m not sure if anybody else knows what this is,” she says.
“You cannot fly for eight hours with someone crying, you just can’t.”
Groner added that autistic individuals really don’t like tight, enclosed places. And though she didn’t know if the sufferer was autistic, she thought she knew how to calm him down.
So she asked the flight attendant for a pen, grabbed a nausea bag, and moved toward the boy; he looked to be about 8 years old and wore an African tunic and pants. And tears were streaming down his cheeks.
Groner put out her hand, the boy took it, and then they sat down together near an emergency exit.
“I put him in my lap and gave him a firm hug and I just started to rock him…you could feel his muscles start to relax.”
Then she and the boy started drawing on the bag, which really seemed to work. The boy was fascinated as she traced an outline of her hand, for example, so then the boy traced his own hand.
And she didn’t stop. To keep the boy calm, Groner sat and talked and drew for another few hours. They got a pillow and some orange juice and cookies as well and at one point, he even smiled and laughed.
Not everyone would’ve taken it upon themselves to do this. Not everyone would’ve been so caring and patient and diligent.
This is precisely why we need people like Groner, and why we should always applaud their efforts to help.
Source: Charlotte Observer