The loud thud froze shoppers and employees and turned their stomachs.
A 9-year-old boy with autism ran, hard, into the glass wall at the Apple store in the Mall at Green Hills. The boy flew backward onto the floor and the mother – full of fear, mind racing – ran over and sank down next to him.
“I thought, ‘There’s going to be a pile of blood; he just cracked his skull open,” said the 50-year-old mom, LynnMarie Rink.
But none of that happened. The boy, James, was disoriented and hurt for a few moments, but soon, he got caught up watching shoppers pass by the Apple store through the glass wall into which he’d just crashed.
His mother was trying hard to keep it together when a store employee, Andrew Wall, quietly sat on the floor with them.
“Are you OK?” he asked. “What can I do for you?”
Rink, shaky, asked Wall if they could finish shopping for an iPad and actually do the transaction on the floor. She wanted to keep her son there, quietly people watching, so as not to further upset him.
The mom also had brought along an iPad protective case, and she wanted that put on the iPad before it was handed to her son. Wall took the case in the back, put it on the new iPad and handed it to the boy.
Wall even sat on the floor to show the boy how to use his new iPad.
Rink – who has written and performed a one-woman show about raising a child with special needs – said she is very grateful to Wall for how he handled the situation.
“As a special needs parent, you don’t know what you’re going to encounter,” she said.
“Just meet me right where I am. Don’t make me stand up or stand out. We know we’re not normal but we try to be. And he just sat on the floor with us.”