Parents

Mom of girl with autism moved by kids' kind act at water park

For parents of boys and girls with special needs, there are many moments of feeling like "the world doesn't understand your children," said mom Stephanie Skaggs.

But for one afternoon this summer, she felt like her daughter Baylee, who has autism, was understood perfectly, thanks to two kind children at a water park in Louisville, Kentucky.

Skaggs, a Zumba instructor and mom of six, was at Kentucky Kingdom on July 22 with Baylee, 5 — a feat in itself, given how her daughter sometimes struggles with new routines and rowdy, loud crowds.

"Standing in line is so hard for her, because she doesn't understand why she can't just go around," Skaggs, 39, told TODAY. "So it's a process and we really had to establish the routine.”

But that day, the process was broken — twice — when another kid cut in front of the line.

RELATED: Nonverbal teen explains life with autism in touching letter

"I was like, 'Uh-oh, here we go,'" Skaggs said. "I was waiting — is she going to bite herself? Is she going to scream?"

But each time, another child in line who was ahead of Baylee offered the girl his or her spot. It happened twice, and Skaggs later realized the children, a boy and a girl, were siblings. Skaggs was shocked.

"I was wondering if I had said something, or if it was the way I was coaching her, and they had somehow picked up that she had special circumstances," the mom said. "I just thought it was so sweet that two kids could be so selfless and intuitive. Because Baylee doesn't have a sign or anything that says, 'I have autism!'"

Stephanie Skaggs
Stephanie Skaggs with her daughter Baylee.

Skaggs later thanked the children and asked them to point out their mom, so she could thank her for parenting them so well.

RELATED: How Pokemon Go sparked 'miracle' transformation in boy with autism

"She was so modest," Skaggs said. "She said, 'I don't know about that.'"

Back home, Skaggs was still moved by the experience, and wrote a Facebook post, a letter to the mom at the water park, to thank her again. The post went viral, and eventually made its way to the mom, Laura Jones, who also lives in Louisville.

Stephanie Skaggs
Skaggs with daughter Baylee, the youngest of six children.

“I never thought it would find her,” Skaggs said. “More than anything, I just wanted other moms who have children like Baylee to be a little more inspired. I think when you’re expecting something bad to happen, it just draws negative energy and then you’re not enjoying your time the way you could be if you weren’t waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Jones, who has three children, told TODAY she was surprised that her kids' kind gesture made such an impact.

RELATED: Mom opens up after son with disability is only one not invited to classmate's birthday

"I tried to explain it to them," she said. "You never know who you're going to touch."

At the end of the day, she said the message is simple: "I think people should just be nice to each other."

And now, the moms appear to have forged a bond. They're both back at the water park today with their kids, for another day of fun.

TOP