A Stranger Made This Autistic Teen’s Day and the Story Will Make You Smile
"We're so happy he's himself again."
For any of us, a disruption in our daily routine—like the coffee shop running out of our preferred sweetener or a detour on our commute to work—can be hard. But for someone with severe autism, a small change can be painfully jarring and can deeply affect their ability to function. Such was the case for Tamar Dubin’s 19-year-old brother Daniel Dubin after she accidentally broke the only plate he would eat off of.
The plate, which featured characters from the show Dragon Tales and is out of circulation, was a constant for Daniel. He would wait by the dishwasher when it was dirty, eager to eat his usual meal: a grilled cheese sandwich.
So, when Tamar broke the plate, it was a challenge for Daniel to cope. “He would routinely ask our mother ‘Where is Daniel’s plate?’ and ‘When is Daniel’s plate coming?’” Tamar told Best Life. “She tried to explain that he could use a regular plate for now, reassuring him that it was OK, but I think he was still pretty devastated and confused.”
According to Tamar, Daniel uses cartoons to communicate how he feels, which is part of why the plate was so important. “He loves watching YouTube clips of his favorite shows like Teletubbies, Dragon Tales, and Oobi and uses their storylines to express his feelings,” she said. “If he’s feeling sad, he might say ‘Oobi’s car is broken,’ referring to the time in the show that Oobi’s sister broke Oobi’s beloved toy car (which fit pretty nicely with our plate situation). If he’s feeling playful, he might sing the Dragon Tales theme song and motion us to sing along.”
Eager to bring back the happy, singing Daniel, Tamar scoured the internet for the plate, but turned up empty. So, she posted on Reddit, asking if anyone happened to have one lying around, offering to pay for it. And, in a prime example of how great people (and the internet) can be, a user named Forrest Markham responded to say that he had the same plate as a kid and that he would see if his mom still had it.
Luckily, she did!
He sent the plate over to Daniel as quickly as he could. And, in just a few short days, he was reunited with his favorite plate and his routine was restored. “Rather than being what a regular kid would describe as ‘happy’ or ‘grateful,’ I think he was relieved that everything was back in its rightful place,” Tamar said.
And others on Reddit were overjoyed by the random act of kindness that made Daniel’s day. “As the mom of an autistic son, who just spent $25 on an obscure cartoon character plush used in a Nascar marketing campaign 10 years ago, I feel this,” another user wrote. “We’ve ran into the issue of looking to strangers, collectors, yard sales, etc. to replace loved and treasured items. It is an amazing sense of peace and happiness when you find what your loved one is looking for. … You’ve all done amazing work. Thank you!”
“Daniel is a really special boy and we’re so happy he’s himself again,” Tamar said. “Our family cannot begin to express how grateful and appreciative we are to all the users of Reddit and especially the senders of the plate that helped us get that order back for him!”
Now Daniel can happily return to his routine of painting, going to the zoo, enjoying cartoons, and, of course, eating a grilled cheese on his favorite plate again. And for more ways you can spread some joy, here are 33 Little Acts of Kindness You Can Do That Are Totally Free.
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