A train passenger who stepped in to help a mother with an autistic son has denied being a hero, claiming: ‘You just do what you can to help’.
Gayna Pealling was travelling on a train when Jack, 5, and his four-year-old sister Amy, when her son started playing up.
Instead of ignoring the situation, recruitment consultant Dan Ball, 21, started distracting and playing with the youngster, eventually calming him down.
Ms Pealling and her hero Mr Ball appeared together on ITV’s This Morning in a bid to educate others on how to help parents of children with special needs.
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Daniel Ball, 21, pictured with Ms Pealling’s two children, calmed down Jack and played with him and his sister and encouraged them to draw for approximately an hour last Saturday
Phillip Schofield revealed that Mr Ball’s actions led to him receiving a standing ovation from his colleagues after a picture of the recruitment consultant (shown) on the train went viral
Speaking to presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, Mr Ball said: ‘I was just slumped in a corner after a big night out the previous day with friends.
‘All I saw was two lively kids and I could see Jack was starting to get agitated and then his mum turned around and said “jack show everyone how you can take your pills”.
‘My mum has a background working with kids with special needs and at that point I realised that he had ADHD.
‘So I just thought I’d pipe up and say “Jack, I take loads of pills every morning and it would be really helpful if you could show me how you take them”.
‘For me it doesn’t really seem that different from holding the door open for someone or holding the lift for someone. When you get opportunities to do things you just do.’
Phillip Schofield revealed that Mr Ball’s actions led to him receiving a standing ovation from his colleagues after a picture of him on the train went viral.
The recruitment consultant is now helping Ms Pealling to raise awareness for the Come to my Rescue initiative.
As part of the scheme, parents of children with special needs wear badges that make other public transport passengers aware of their presence.
Mr Ball, who lives and works in London, added: ‘People who have a understanding of the wider context generally are more compassionate.
‘The go-to reaction when a kid is crying in the shop is to think that he isn’t getting the sweets he wants. But I think a lot of the time there’s underlying problems.’
Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Ball added: ‘I’m just a normal person you’d find in the street, but unlike most people I understood almost straight away what was going on.
‘My mum has worked with children with special needs for years; it’s her life’s work and she is very passionate about it and that understanding rubbed off on me through her constantly talking about it.
Ms Pealling and her hero Mr Ball appeared together on ITV’s This Morning in a bid to educate others on how to help parents of children with special needs
While on the train, Jack (pictured) began hitting Ms Pealling and his sister in what his mother described as a ‘meltdown’
‘What she always says to me is that there are literally hundreds of thousands of these children throughout the country, so it is likely that when that kid on the train starts having a meltdown, there’s a good chance he has special needs.
‘It is about understanding what is going on so you can step in and help. What struck me on that day is that the guy sat behind me was tutting as soon as the children got on the carriage.
‘I remember thinking that wasn’t a very nice reaction, that he should try and be a bit more understanding.
‘And when I got off the train the same guy reached over and touched my leg and said “well done, son”.
‘It just shows that if people are more aware then they’d be much more willing to help and not simply blame it on what they think is bad parenting.’
Shortly after the incident, Ms Pealling posted a photograph on Facebook showing Mr Ball’s intervention, describing him as ‘my hero’.
She wrote a post on Facebook which since went viral praising Mr Ball.
Shortly after the incident, Ms Pealling posted a photograph on Facebook showing Mr Ball’s intervention, describing him as ‘my hero’
Before his intervention, Jack was hitting his mother and sister and making lots of noise
She said: ‘Omg this guy is my hero.. my son has ADHD and autism..n started to have a melt down their was a couple that were chatting with him at first then this random Lovely stranger called Dan took over and was talking to both my children..he calmed my son down n the train journey was perfect…. thank you to this man ur really don’t know how much I appreciated your help xxx.’
Since helping Ms Pealling and her family, Mr Ball has started a JustGiving page to raise money for the National Autistic Society.
He wrote: ‘Recently, a post on Facebook made me realise just how many people’s lives are affected by autism – whether it’s having it themselves or supporting a family member.
‘I thought that, as people have taken the time to like and share the post with the photos of me in, they might be able to share a few pounds and – hopefully – we can make a bit of a difference.’
Gayna Peallilng, pictured, with her children Jack and Amy was struggling when her son, right, who has ADHD and autism suffered a meltdown while travelling on the train
While on the train, Jack began hitting Ms Pealling and his sister in what his mother described as a ‘meltdown’.
Ms Pealling said Mr Ball played with her son and daughter for approximately an hour, calming down the distressing situation.
She revealed that in the past, people have described Jack as ‘naughty’ or even accused her of being a bad mother because they do not understand autism and ADHD.
She said she and her family have been told to leave a bus a dozen times in the past year as a result of Jack’s behaviour.
As a result of his condition, he can react to ‘unfamiliar situations’ or ‘loud environments’.