Close your eyes and imagine for a second what it feels like to be excluded and isolated because your mind and eyes work differently. That’s how it felt for 5-year-old Carter Braconi, a boy with autism and ADHD.
It was his birthday recently and he wanted to go to a skate park with his mother in his home state of New Jersey. What he and his mother were not expecting was to come across a group of teenage skateboarders.
After the teenagers arrived, Carter was experiencing too much stimulation and became nervous, until he was befriended by 13-year-old Gavin, a teenage boy a part of the skateboarding group.
Initially, Gavin spoke to Carter to give him tips on how to safely roll down the skate ramps without falling. Afterwards, he taught him how to skateboard.
The boys connected like long time friends, laughing and chatting away.
Learning it was Carter’s birthday, Gavin and his friends sung “happy birthday” and even presented Carter with a mini skateboard for a birthday present.
Kristen Braconi, Carter’s mother was very touched by the teenager’s kindness and posted several videos of their interactions to a Autism Facebook group, praising them for their actions.
“They were absolutely amazing with him and included him and were so beyond kind, it brought me to tears,” wrote Braconi. “I can’t even begin to thank these kids for being so kind and showing him how wonderful people can be to complete strangers.”
She bought them ice cream, but felt it wasn’t enough for gratitude. “Thank you to whoever these children are and thank you to their parents because you are doing a wonderful job!!!”
The videos were shared thousands of times until they eventually caught the eye of local news outlets and police officers.
The police department gave the teenagers honorary coins as appreciation for their compassion.
Braconi plans to arrange a pizza party for the teenagers as a thank you for making her son feel happy and included.
“That day made me feel overjoyed to see kind, compassionate, respectful teenagers doing the right thing on their own,” Braconi told People.