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Mom of autistic girl thanks fellow traveler

A mother’s blog post, thanking a fellow passenger who showed kindness to her 3-year-old autistic daughter on a flight home, has garnered the attention of people from around the world -- including the man who inspired the post.

Shanell Mouland from St. John, N.B., was expecting a bumpy plane ride, but was pleasantly surprised when the man sitting next to her daughter Kate, engaged the girl in conversation throughout the flight.

“We were worried because when you have a child with autism and you’re flying, it’s a no-escape scenario,” she told CTV Atlantic.

A St. John, N.B. mother to a 3-year-old autistic girl wrote a blog about a friendly man who sat next to her daughter on a flight and engaged her in conversation.

When the family boarded the plane in Philadelphia, there was an empty seat next to Kate, making for a stressful wait for Mouland, who was anxious to see who would be sitting next to her daughter.

“As the people walked by, I saw some grandmotherly-type people and I thought, ‘Please sit down,’” she said.

“And then I saw a businessman coming and I thought, ‘Oh don’t sit down,’ because he had an iPad, he had everything, and I thought ‘That’s probably not the guy.’”

But as soon as he took the seat next to Kate, the girl began rubbing his arm and calling him “daddy,” which Mouland says is a compliment.

“That means you’re safe, you’re comfortable, I like you,” Mouland said.

Mouland says Kate and the businessman spent most of the flight talking. “I even shut my eyes for a few minutes, which is really rare, so the flight went really well.”

The stranger’s kindness inspired Mouland to write the post, titled “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16 C Flight 1850 from Philly,” on her blog “Go Team Kate.”

“You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that 'smile' that I despise because it means; 'manage your child please.' You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles,” Mouland wrote.

The friendly airplane passenger, Eric from New Jersey, was one of the many people to respond to the blog post.

“Since I was sitting next to her, I can honestly say I wish I can be as good of a parent as she is,” wrote Eric. “I learned more from Kate and her mom than I could have on my iPad!”

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