Stranger hailed ‘hero’ after helping Farnborough autistic child on train

The mother of a five-year-old boy with autism has hailed a young man a “hero” after he stepped in to help calm her son during a difficult train journey.

Gayna Pealling hailed Daniel Ball, 21, from Farringdon, “my hero” after he distracted her son Jack when he became distressed on a train to Farnborough.

She posted images on Facebook of Mr Ball playing with Jack, which have been shared hundreds of times.

The pair have since began campaigning to raise awareness of autism and ADHD.

Ms Pealling, a single mother from Farnborough, Hampshire, was travelling home from Portsmouth when her son Jack began having a “meltdown”.  She said:

“I can’t thank Dan enough for what he did that day.  Strangers just think my child is misbehaving but it is just his condition. I got a lot of bad looks from a lot of people on the train – which didn’t help the situation.”

Dan helped distract Jack, who was shouting and swearing, by asking him to come and draw with his sister Amy, Ms Pealling added.

The pair have since set up a campaign to help raise awareness of the condition with the help of Mr Ball’s mother Barbara, who has worked in the special needs sector since 1976.

Mr Ball also has a fundraising page for the National Autistic Society which has already exceeded its £1,000 target.  He said:

“I thought that, as people have taken the time to like and share the post with the photos of me in, they might be able to share a few pounds and – hopefully – we can make a bit of a difference”

The team has created badges which say “The Rescuer” and “Come to my rescue” which they are urging people to wear on public transport to help bring attention to parents with autistic children who may need help.

Mrs Ball, said:

“Judging by the response to Gayna’s Facebook post, most parents would be grateful for a smile, a nod or a word of support or even an offer to help in an extreme situation such as Gayna and Dan found themselves in.”

14 top tips on how to connect effectively with children with ADHD

ADHD symbol design isolated on white background

Here are a few suggestions from the Relevant Children’s Ministry website on helping children with ADHD to connect with your teaching:

ADHD is marked by attention problems and impulsive behavior.

A recent report shows the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise.

About 11 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with the condition at some point.  (6.4 million)

Boys (13.2%) are more likely than girls (5.6%) to be diagnosed with ADHD.  But I didn’t have to tell you that.  If you’ve ever taught a 3rd grade boys’ class, you already knew that.

The average age of ADHD diagnosis is 7 years of age.

But imagine creating an environment where kids with ADHD can effectively discover Biblical truth and grow in their faith.  Take these steps and you’ll see it happen:

  • Establish a relationship with the child’s parents.  Learn about their child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests and achievements.  Ask what teaching methods have been most effective with their child. Communicate often and send encouraging notes home.
  • Build a relationship with the child.  When you show the child compassion and he/she knows you care, he/she will respond to you much better. 
  • Connect with the child and let them set up a “secret” cue that you can use with them if they get off task.  It could be a hand signal, a sound, a touch on the shoulder, or some other cue.  Let the child decide what the cue will be.
  • Keep instructions simple and structured.
  • Don’t just use lecture-style teaching.  Include various kinds of learning activities such as competitive games or other activities that are rapid and intense.
  • Use props, charts, and visual aids when teaching.
  • Allow the child to take breaks as needed.
  • Give the child a physical outlet such as squeezing a ball.
  • Have the child sit near the front on the outside of the rows.   This way, if they move, they won’t bother others.   
  • Use rewards instead of punishment.  Kids with ADHD are constantly told “no.”  Instead use positive reinforcement. 
  • Don’t engage in power struggles with the child.  When you do…no one wins.
  • Avoid criticizing the child in front of others.
  • Divide the lesson into short segments.  This helps honor their very short attention span.  
  • Seat the child in an area that has the least amount of distractions. (windows, doors, etc.)

What are your suggestions for connecting with kids with ADHD?