How a United Airlines crew handled an autistic 4-yr-old's meltdown is pure human excellence

This is how it should be.

When Lori Gabriel boarded a United Airlines flight from San Diego to Houston with her partner and his 4-year-old son, Braysen, she didn't expect the scene that was about to unfold.

Braysen, who is autistic, usually loves to fly. But shortly before takeoff, he wanted to take off his seatbelt and sit on the floor.

"It was impossible to restrain him," Gabriel told CNN. "He was fighting both me and his father. It took the both of us to try to get him back to his chair and get his seat belt back on. He started kicking, screaming and hitting."

"That's when a flight attendant came over and told us the flight couldn't take off until he's seated," she said. "I told her the boy has autism, we're trying, give us a minute."


The flight attendant walked away as the couple continued to try to get Braysen calmed down and buckled. When the flight attendant returned with two other crew members, they asked how they could help the family. "Then they sprang into action," Gabriel said.

RELATED: This mom's viral story of strangers' kindness illustrates how it truly 'takes a village.'

They allowed Braysen to sit on Gabriel's lap with his father holding onto him. And once the seatbelt sign was turned off, they let Braysen lie on the floor in the aisle.

"When he's overstimulated, the vibration makes him feel better," Gabriel said.

Braysen moved around the cabin, visiting people in first class for a while. "Braysen seemed happy there, so we didn't want to move him," Gabriel told CNN. The boy started kicking a man's seat, and Gabriel apologized. "I told the man 'I'm sorry,' but he said he didn't mind, he introduced himself to Braysen and gave him high fives. He said, 'He can kick my chair, I don't care.'"

"Everybody in first class was kind to him, asking his name, showing him pictures on their phones, letting him sit whenever he wanted," Gabriel continued. "The flight attendants kept asking if we needed anything, making sure everybody was taken care of."

Gabriel shared photos from the flight on Facebook:

One of the photos shows a note written on a torn out magazine page, which an off-duty flight attendant handed to Gabriel at the end of the flight. It reads:

"I commend you for your strength. Do not EVER let anyone make you feel as though you are an inconvenience or a burden. He is a blessing. God bless your patience, your support, your love, and your strength. Continue to be superwoman. And know you and your family are loved & supported. - United Family"

RELATED: A 4th-grader explains to class what having autism is like. The teacher was stunned by their reaction.

After Gabriel tweeted the story with a shout out to United, the airlines tweeted back:

Gabriel was brought to tears by the overwhelming kindness of the crew and passengers on the flight.

"For the first time, people have been very understanding and helpful about Braysen's autism," she said. "It's very promising, we don't have to care about what other people think because there are people who are caring, who understand. It gives me a lot of hope for the future."

With so many stories of people complaining about babies or children on flights, how heartwarming is it to see a story of a whole flight being kind and flexible with a small child with special needs?

Way to go, United Flight 2210. Thank you for showing us what inclusivity, kindness, and compassion look like in action.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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