A little girl with autism sits down beside you in a plane and begins to call you her Daddy.

What would you do?

One stranger, Eric, was put in that position.

As mom Kate said, in the midst of her daughter’s antics he took the time to treat her as a little person.

“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.

So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.”

The letter quickly went viral and reached “Daddy at 16c” the following day. It’s been a year now since the flight and they came to know the guy. His name is Eric Kunkel from New Jersey, he’s married, and is a parent himself. He has since became good friends with the Moulands.


Eric’s response remind us all to look for the little opportunities to rise up and make a difference in someone’s life, even if only for a few moments.