Shanell Mouland, 36, of Quispamsis, blogs about life with her three-year-old daughter Kate, who has autism spectrum disorder.
In her latest entry, entitled Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly, Mouland says she was nervous about how the businessman who sat next to Kate would react, but that his patience and attentiveness helped Kate get through the long flight.
"The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and she liked the feel of it. You smiled at her and she said: 'Hi, Daddy, that's my mom,'" the Go Team Kate blog states.
"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," Mouland wrote.
"So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl."
Mouland's post has already garnered more than 69,000 likes on Facebook and has been featured on the Huffington Post and online publications around the world. She believes the simple story of an act of kindness has struck a chord with people.
"People are really craving good news, or things that make them feel good," she told CBC's Information Morning Saint John on Wednesday.
"People are loving it because, you know, I think it made them feel good, I hope it did. And I hope at the same time that the people who are reading it — and I know it’s getting out there more — are getting, you know, maybe a little more educated on how autism manifests in children," she said. "Obviously that's our goal."
Mouland says widespread interest in the story has helped her reconnect with the man. But he isn't looking for recognition, she said.
"He just wants the same thing we do — he wants people to, next time you're at the grocery store and a child may have a hard time, think about it, you know. There could be sensory issues, there could be developmental issues. We just want people just to think a little bit more before they make a judgment."