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Woman’s post about 'incredible experience' at STL aquarium with her son who has autism goes viral

'Be like Chris,' Beth wrote

ST. LOUIS — A woman’s post about the St. Louis Aquarium has gone viral.

Beth was in St. Louis with her son John over the holidays. She used to live in the St. Louis area.

John has autism and Beth said taking him to public events can just be so hard sometimes.

But this time, an employee at the aquarium made her family’s experience incredible, she said.

The post has been shared over 5,000 times.

Below is the message she shared on Facebook,

'While in St. Louis we visited the new aquarium. I have no pics of John, but a story to warm all hearts.

Whenever we go any place with a crowd we never know what to expect. We prepare, discuss often, but sometimes that is simply not enough. Upon entering the aquarium there were long lines, people everywhere, it was a mad house to say the least. We started walking towards the line and John eloped. Kevin followed close behind, as after all these years it has just become routine.

While routine, my heart still breaks, the stares still sting, and sadness sets in because some days I simply hate autism!!!!

A man walked up to me and asked if I needed help with our tickets. I explained that I was unsure if we would be able to stay due to the circumstances. At this point he reached out to shake my hand.. “My name is Chris, and I am here to help!” He proceeded to tell me that he had a “back way” to get John to the exhibits, AND a quite room, sensory friendly, a place to escape if it became to over whelming. My eyes filled with tears. In all our years on this journey this was a first.

I went outside where I found Kevin and John sitting quietly on a bench. I explained that Chris was going to help us, and J was going to get to see the animals.

Upon reentering the aquarium Chris immediately got down on John's level, introduced himself, put his arm in the air and said “follow me”. He made sure John didn’t have to stand with the crowd, he showed John the sensory room, he took our crew behind the scenes where it was only us and the sharks. Chris, you my friend, are amazing!!

Dear Chris,

If this post some how finds it’s way to you THANK YOU!!! Thank you for showing kindness. Thank you for showing understanding and patience. Thank you for your effort in teaching John that there are wonderful people in this world. Thank you for not judging, and THANK YOU for restoring our faith in humanity!


The Gajdas

#belikechris #showkindnessalways #autism'

5 On Your Side's Marianne Martinez spoke to John's mom after her post went viral. 

"He was more excited to go to the aquarium than he was for his presents on Christmas morning," Beth said.

She said the St. Louis aquarium has set an example for the rest of the world.

"Knowing that employees are now being trained how to recognize these situations and it’s not just like, oh, that kid is throwing a fit. That’s not it and they really can’t control their emotions when they feel overwhelmed."

In April 2018, it was announced that the St. Louis Aquarium was among the first in the world to be built with sensory inclusion in mind.

Staff of St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station have been trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize guests with sensory needs and how to appropriately handle a sensory overload situation.

RELATED: St. Louis Aquarium among first in the world to be built with sensory inclusion in mind

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