Why this simple act of kindness made such an impression on a local couple

Fawad (4) was diagnosed with autism two months after his second birthday.
Fawad (4) was diagnosed with autism two months after his second birthday.

Many people shared and loved this sweet story posted by dad Fahiem Abrahams on Facebook, about how a simple act of kindness by a KFC employee saved him and his family's day.

It all began when Fahiem and Taheerah's son, Fawad (4), had a meltdown when they had to leave an arcade. Having expected this, his dad carried him out  - kicking and screaming.

Fahiem shared "As per usual we had an audience of stares, but then a female voice behind me asked if my son would perhaps like an ice-cream."

The voice belonged to a KFC employee, who then gave Fawad the promised treat.

"I was blown away with this act of kindness, this was the first time someone ever approached us in public during a meltdown" Fahiem has shared.

In his post Fahiem also shared "No words can express how you made me feel. You're an angel and this is a moment I'll never forget!"

Fawad

Fawad enjoying his ice cream


It's just an ice cream? 

To understand why this was such a memorable moment to the family, it's important to understand that Fawad is autistic.

"When it comes to autism, many times you feel you feel like you're fighting this battle alone and here was this stranger showing so much empathy and compassion without knowing the reason or cause, without assuming it's a child being naughty or throwing a tantrum" the dad of three shared. 

The family found out when he was just two years old. Before a routine visit to their pediatrician visit for an allergy check, the family had no clue that their son might not be developing exactly as expected.

"For the first two years of his life he was a normal little boy to us," Fahiem shared with Parent24. "We found out our son was autistic two months after his second birthday. What started as a routine allergy check at his pediatrician became the doorway to a world we never thought would be our world," he told us. 

A happy and bubbly baby

"It wasn’t as straight forward as most tests are and we were advised do through a few tests with various specialists. We had tests done at the ENT, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Ear Institute and Pediatric Neurologist," he revealed. 

Due certain behavioural, physical, social and developmental concerns the pediatrician noticed, they were instructed that checking everything was vital for diagnosis.

Despite Fawaad being born prematurely there was nothing that had concerned or distressed his parents. To them he was a healthy, happy and bubbly baby who had a huge appetite, and loved music.

He also loved walking on his toes and flapping his hands, running in circles and he was always up to mischief like any toddler at that age. However, little did his parents know that these quirks are symptoms of autism. 

Fawad

Fawaad (left), with his brother and sister

The new journey

"I had no idea what autism spectrum disorder was, so I went on YouTube and searched for videos on it, and what I saw left me heartbroken," Fahiem shares.

To Fahiem and Taheerah their eldest daughter was their point of reference of what a child's actions were supposed to be. They say their assumption was a child is supposed to start talking at a certain age, and when you play peekaboo a child reacts.

Though Fawad was not doing any of those things, he was spinning around every chance he got, flapping his hands and walking on his toes which his family found extremely cute.

They would later learn that this is called stimming. 

On their 'new' journey there is a lot they have learned about the disorder and Fawaad's experience of it. For instance it is very challenging being out in public for them most of the time.

Fahiem says there's always something that Fawad wants and at times find the word 'no' is very difficult to understand.

Follow their lead

Fahiem said, "To understand what people with autism go through we need to step into their world, speak their language, follow their lead. The sensors of someone with autism are different to ours. It's more heightened, so we have to respect that."

They describe their lives as a normal life, mostly.

"When Fawad was younger he was affected by crowds, noises, lights or anything that results in sensory overload but with time he is learning to handle it much better.'

"Occasionally, we sometimes need to choose our voyages strategically. We also need to know what routes to take in order to avoid meltdowns, we need to know where the nearest ice-cream store is, and we must always have a mobile phone with a full battery at hand," he said. 

"We are aware of most of his triggers for possible meltdowns – for example balloons and toy vending machines or toy rides will trigger him. Those are no go zones. Fawad is a runner so when we're in open spaces we always need to be more aware because he can run off at any moment," says Fahiem.

Fawad

Fahiem and Taheerah, and their three children. Fawaad is on his dad's shoulders.


One day at a time

"An autistic child is like any other child, the only difference they see the world differently," Fahiem says. The couple agree that they have had to be more patient and accepting, and that has made their journey a smoother one. 

When asked what they motto is, their answer is, "Take things one day at a time." Taheerah calls her son 'autistic warrior' and Fahiem says he can't think of a better title.

Fawaad started school last year. "He has all the pupils and educators wrapped around his finger. Despite his age and his verbal challenges, he tackles each challenge head on and sometimes literally," his dad shares.

A wonderful boy

Fahiem says it him almost two years to openly speak about his sons autism because it was a way of protecting Fawaad from the world.

"I realised that it’s not his fault if people can’t see him for who he is which is a regular 4-year-old boy."

Our son has grown so much over the past few months, from feeding himself, using multiple words, brushing his teeth and potty training to name a few."

"He is blessed with an older sister and younger brother that don’t give him peace (in a good way), but nothing brings us as much joy as watching them play together. Our son is an amazing and wonderful boy and I wouldn't want him any other way," Fahiem told Parent24.

Have you got a Feel Good story to tell? We want to hear it!

Mail us your story at feelgood@news24.com and one of our journalists could be giving you a call. If you'd just like to read about the good South Africans are doing daily, head over to our Feel Good section!

Chat back:

Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.


Read more:

WATCH: Clip of autistic boy singing goes viral

Local woman with swim school shares five swimming tips for kids with special needs

"Fight autism, not each other" says local author of Saving My Sons: A Journey with Autism