'Daddy' in 16C - thanks for kindness to my autistic child
THE mother of an autistic girl has written a heartfelt letter of thanks to a stranger who sat beside her daughter on a plane flight in the US.
The letter, written on the blog Go Team Kate, describes how the businessman engaged with little Kate Mouland, who called him "Daddy" throughout the flight - an expression mum Shannell says reflected an immediate level of trust.
The letter, addressed to Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly, starts out with these words.
"I don't know your name but Kate called you 'daddy' for the entire flight last week and you kindly never corrected her.
"In fact, you didn't even flinch as you could probably tell that she was not confusing you with her own 'daddy' but instead making a judgment regarding your level of 'safety' for her. If she calls you 'daddy' then you better believe she thinks you are alright."
Shannell, goes on in the blog to tell how she had to make an instant decision to sit Kate in the middle seat, where she knew she would be next to another passenger, because of the little one's obsession with opening and closing the window shade, which was likely to be a distraction to others.
She notes how a string of other passengers passed before a businessman sat down and Kate immediately started to rub his arm, infatuated by his soft jacket.
"You smiled at her and she said: 'Hi, Daddy, that's my mom.' Then she had you," Shannell wrote.
The passenger and Kate then engaged in a conversation about iPads and the communication went on.
"The interaction went on and on and you never once seemed annoyed," Shannell wrote.
"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. "
The Independent has since reported the passenger was Eric Kunkel, a married father from New Jersey.
After being alerted to the post by his relatives, he said: "I travel a lot for work, and Kate was, by far, the most well-behaved kid I've sat next to. Shanell is also an incredible parent - she didn't apologize for Kate and she shouldn't have - but she was very attentive to her."