Although it can be diagnosed at any age, symptoms of this developmental disorder generally appear during the first two years of life. Among other things, they may find it difficult to interact and communicate with other people, and they may also exhibit repetitive behaviors and restricted interests.
Aside from being diagnosed with a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder, this 5-year-old boy from South Brunswick, New Jersey also had ADHD. For his birthday, his mother, Kristen Braconi, took him to the skate park to celebrate.
As he was riding his scooter, a group of teenage boys arrived at the park with their skateboards. Carter was “really nervous” about playing next to the older kids and wanted to leave. But despite that, he bravely kept scooting on the concrete bumps in the park.
“We wanted to take him to the park to see if we could get him to interact with some kids and try to help him be more social,” Kristen told Patch. “He gets nervous around a lot of people sometimes because it can be overwhelming. When the bigger boys got there, he said to me ‘Oh no,’ and he thought he was going to have to leave because he didn’t want to get in their way.”
But as it turns out, the boy had nothing to be afraid of.
Instead of ignoring the little lad playing alongside them, the teens took it upon themselves to teach him the proper way to skate. When Carter fell off, an older boy in a black shirt picked him up and told him that learning to ride isn’t easy. The teens even cheered him on as he was riding the mini skate.
When Kristen casually mentioned that it was her son’s birthday that day, the group began singing “Happy Birthday” to him. The proud mother found the moment so sweet that she decided to capture it on video. Kristen didn’t expect for these teens to show Carter so much kindness.
“They made him feel so special,” she said. “He kept telling everyone when we got home about how nice the boys were and he has watched the videos for two days in a row.”
Kristen uploaded a video of the touching moment to a community social media page and it instantly went viral. Her intent on sharing the clip was to let these their parents know that they did a good job in raising these kids, and she also wanted them to be recognized by the community for their act of kindness and compassion towards her son.
“That day made me feel overjoyed to see kind, compassionate, respectful teenagers doing the right thing on their own,” Kristen tells PEOPLE. “I wanted their parents to see how well they had raised them and that they were doing a great job because it’s important to build each other up! Parenting is hard no matter what is going on with your child and it feels good to receive recognition when you are doing the right thing.”
The mother-and-son left the park for a while and brought back ice cream for the group as a gesture of thanks.
“After they included him, his whole demeanor changed. He seems more confident now and I think more comfortable to be at the park. Hopefully he will feel like he can be more social,” Kristen shared.
With all the challenges that they face daily, it is vital for people diagnosed with on the spectrum autism disorder to feel a sense of belonging in their community – and that is what exactly these teens gave Carter on his special day.
Check out the video below to see the group singing “Happy Birthday” to little Carter.
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