Real Life

Mum's heartwarming message to football player who befriended her autistic son: 'Today I didn't have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone'

His actions have since been shared around the world.

Football player befriends autistic boy
Football player befriends autistic boy

The mother of a boy with autism has written a heartfelt thank you to a popular American football player – after he kept her son company during lunch.

Leah Paske, from Tallahassee, Florida, took to Facebook to share the touching image, that shows Florida State football player Travis Rudolph having lunch with her son this week.

The mum wrote: “Several times lately I have tried to remember my time in middle school, did I like all my teachers, do I even remember them? Did I have many friends? Did I sit with anyone at lunch? Just how mean were kids really? I remember one kid on the bus called me "Tammy Fay Baker" bc I started awkwardly wearing eye liner in the sixth grade, I remember being tough and calling him a silly name back, but when he couldn't see me anymore I cried. I do remember middle school being scary, and hard.

Watch: Girl with autism interviews Channing Tatum

“Now that I have a child starting middle school, I have feelings of anxiety for him, and they can be overwhelming if I let them. Sometimes I'm grateful for his autism. That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but in some ways I think, I hope, it shields him. He doesn't seem to notice when people stare at him when he flaps his hands. He doesn't seem to notice that he doesn't get invited to birthday parties anymore. And he doesn't seem to mind if he eats lunch alone. It's one of my daily questions for him. Was there a time today you felt sad? Who did you eat lunch with today? Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it's nobody.

Travis in action on the football field
Travis in action on the football field

“Those are the days I feel sad for him, but he doesn't seem to mind. He is a super sweet child, who always has a smile and hug for everyone he meets. A friend of mine sent this beautiful picture to me today and when I saw it with the caption "Travis Rudolph is eating lunch with your son" I replied "who is that?" He said "FSU football player", then I had tears streaming down my face. Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my sons school today. I'm not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I'm happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten. This is one day I didn't have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes.

"Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life! #travisrudolph #gonoles #autismmom #fansforlife.”

The post has since been shared over 10,000 times and featured on international news networks.

Player Travis Rudolph told American new outlets that the post “brought tears to his eyes.” He has since been praised by his coaches and the general public alike for his actions.