Traveling with children isn’t easy, but it’s particularly difficult when you have a child with a host of health problems. After a rude passenger shamed one such family and their disabled 8-year-old daughter on a plane, things went from bad to worse.
Nicola Colenso knew that traveling with her family would be a challenge. Her 8-year-old daughter Yasmin not only suffers from epilepsy, glaucoma, and autism, but the little girl also has Sturge Weber syndrome, a rare condition affecting the skin, brain, and eyes. The child battled for her life after having dozens of daily seizures that required brain surgery. But, even with all of her health concerns, doctors declared the little girl “fit to fly.”
In need of a vacation, the family decided to travel to Ibiza, one of the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The 11-day trip with Nicola’s parents was the break the family needed, but their relaxing getaway would take a turn during their flight home, thanks to a woman who appeared to be in her mid-20’s.
Yasmin began to suffer a meltdown on the plane, which was just as stressful for the little girl as it was her parents. Sadly, a seemingly healthy adult passenger decided to have a tantrum of her own as well. As the family was doing everything they could to console their distraught daughter, they found themselves being yelled at by an irate stranger.
“Will you shut that child up!?” a woman in a seat near them began to yell, shaming the young girl and her parents. Apparently, the woman was trying to get some beauty sleep and Yasmin’s meltdown was interfering with the stranger’s plans. Making matters worse, the frustrated passenger even called the child’s father a “prick,” as she continued to lambaste the parents for the child’s unruly behavior. She even went so far as to insinuate she could do a better job, to which Yasmin’s father said she was welcome to try.
Stunned by what she had witnessed, Nicola snapped a photo of the woman and posted it to Facebook. With the image, the upset mom revealed what the woman had done and what happened next, which makes it even worse. “We are sorry our daughter stopped you from getting your beauty sleep but clearly, she was having a meltdown and was not feeling 100%,” Nicola began, addressing the post to the unnamed woman.
“As you felt the need to turn round and ask us to ‘shut that child up!’ this didn’t help her anxiety levels or ours in trying to manage the situation,” the mother wrote, continuing to shame the woman on social media. “We explained her situation to you very politely and said we are sorry if she is causing a problem,” Nicola furthered, adding that she even suggested a seat change. But, it did little to calm the furious stranger, who repeated that she was “sick of the noise” and again asked Nicola, “Can’t you just shut her up!?”
“You continued to be abusive and publicly called her Daddy a ‘PRICK’ in front of her and her other 3 siblings,” Nicola revealed. “Your behavior and outburst [were] not helpful what so ever in helping to calm down our daughter’s anxiety.” Then, she really dropped the hammer, hoping the rude passenger will learn that Yasmin’s problem was serious. What was going on with the little girl was much more important than the woman’s need for a nap.
“I hope social media helps for this post to find you to let you know that same little 8-year-old girl ended up being taken to [the] hospital by ambulance that evening as she became seriously unwell. Maybe you managed to get a good night sleep?” the mother wrote, later saying, “It was clear to anyone who looked that something wasn’t right with Yasmin.”
According to Daily Mail, later that night, Yasmin “got worse and went limp and lifeless, her lips went blue,” her mother said, explaining the child suffered severe seizures after the incident. “It was really scary. She was rushed to hospital in an ambulance,” Nicola furthered. “She has not been rushed to [the] hospital like that since her operation in 2013 so it shows what she went through on [the plane] was not normal.”
As Nicola’s post went viral, people criticized the woman for lashing out at the family. So, it’s unlikely that the unnamed woman will come forward into the firestorm to apologize for her behavior. Even so, Yasmin’s mom wants her daughter’s story to be told in hopes someone else will think twice in a similar situation since it’s so easy to become frustrated and make assumptions about noisy children.
“I really wanted to raise awareness so it doesn’t happen to others who are in the same situation,” Nicola said. “I want people to think twice when they see someone in this situation. Not all disabilities are visible so they shouldn’t just presume.”
It’s natural to want parents to maintain control of their children in public, but yelling at them or their parents will only make a chaotic situation worse. What’s more, we can’t assume a noisy child is a bad child. As Nicola Colenso pointed out, not all challenges are visible. There might be a medical reason for the meltdown — and an angry, shouting stranger is never the recommended treatment.