Gayna Pealling was travelling home to Farnborough from Portsmouth with her five-year-old son Jack and four-year-old daugher Amy, when Jack “started to have a meltdown”.
“This random lovely stranger called Dan took over and was talking to both my children,” the mum wrote on Facebook on 30 September.
“He calmed my son down and the train journey was perfect... thank you to this man, you really don’t know how much I appreciated your help.
“This guy is my hero.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Pealling explained she and her children had to change at Winchester, making the journey longer and busier than usual.
“Jack likes trains, but not the waiting around and not knowing what’s going on,” she said.
“It started getting really busy and by the time we got on the train, he was angry and upset, he was cursing and kicking the chair. It got out of hand.”
Pealling said many people around her were tutting and looking, so she stood up and explained Jack has autism and ADHD and asked the other passengers to bear with him.
At one point, when she was trying to get Jack to take his daily dose of ADHD medication, he started screaming that he didn’t want them.
She explained: “Dan shouted out: ‘I take tablets so how about you show me how to take them’. Jack said alright I’ll take the tablets. Dan started talking to my daughter and colouring, and after a while Jack wanted to sit with him, too.”
They sat together for the rest of the journey - 55 minutes.
“Jack wanted to wave goodbye after we got off the train so we did,” she said. “I put it on a ‘Spotted in London’ group afterwards and that’s how I found Dan, and messaged him to say thank you again.
“Unless you know about special needs, you don’t know what it’s like. People assume you’re a bad parent or it’s a bad child.”
Daniel Ball, 21, from Farringdon told the Evening Standard his mum has worked with special needs children his whole life, so he has a good understanding of what they are doing.
“We played games with coins, drew images of trains, I showed them how they worked. I love playing with children anyway,” he said.
“It’s lovely people have made such a big deal out of it. But from my perspective it’s just about helping people, nothing miraculous. I’m not a hero or anything.”
Daniel Ball’s mum, Barbara, who is a special needs educational consultant, is now launching the “Come To My Rescue (CTMR)” campaign in response to the attention her son’s act received.
Writing on her Facebook page on 4 October, she explained: “The campaign seeks to champion the actions of Dan and others like him who often come to the rescue of parents in need of support.”
As part of the campaign, the family are hoping to create badges with ‘CTMR’ on so parents will know those who are willing to help while on public transport.
Do it for free, I’m a rescuer badge. put them all around London.
For more information about the campaign, visit Ball’s Facebook page.