You might have seen this in the news a few weeks back. Mom and Dad take their Autistic son to a Universal Theme Park in Orlando. The son is over the top excited for the Spiderman ride, and Murphy’s Law comes into play.
The family gets to the ride and it’s broken down. The son loses it. Full blown, five-alarm tantrum on the ground in front of the ride. Mom and Dad are doing all they can to help him calm down, he’s having none of it, when this happens:
So, you see the son with his headphones and you see an actual park employee from Universal from the Spiderman ride who came over and got on the ground and just laid down with this child. Let everyone know who was gawking that you know, it’s okay, some days the Spiderman ride breaks down and it sucks and we all want to scream about it.
The child eventually calmed down with the help of the employee. The parents were all so grateful for the assist and help.
This is a great human story. This is also a great story for Universal’s recruiting team! Let’s be honest. The reality is, the TA team really had nothing to do with this. They ran their process, and out of that, got lucky enough to hire a person who had these capabilities and a giant heart.
You can’t expect or set out to hire, individuals like this woman. She’s a unicorn. In fact, I would bet that Universal in their training would probably use an example like this of what not to do from a liability standpoint! All that said, it happened and it was wonderful.
You might see a story like this and say to yourself, “we need to add this example into our onboarding so that our new employees know this is what we want them to be like!” That’s really unfair to your new hires. Some might see this and think that’s the scariest thing I can imagine, but they might be willing to do a thousand other great things.
The biggest learning from an HR standpoint on this for me is that we can’t eliminate risk in our environments. Things are going to happen. We hope we hire and train employees to do the ‘right’ thing. To be kind. To be human. To do what they would want someone to do for them in a similar circumstance.
Also, to know, when we ask our employees to take the risk of being kind, being human, etc. that sometimes it’s going to backfire, but if it was done with positive intent and good heart we are willing to take that risk.
“Koppelman said Whelchel and a customer service representative told her the company trains employees on how best to serve guests with autism.” At least 3 employees are mentioned in taking extra effort to assist in this situation. It’s possible any one of them might have done this on their own without the training, but when 3 people step up like this, that’s INSTITUTIONAL.