Kenlee Bellew-Shaw, a fourth-grader, was having a rough day at school when Miss Esther arrived and comforted the 9-year-old.
A school custodian in Texas is being showered with praise for going beyond the call of duty and comforting a young girl with autism. A picture of Miss Esther, 36, who works as a custodian at Passmore Elementary in Alvin, Texas, was taken—she was lying beside an autistic girl, Kenlee Bellew-Shaw, who was experiencing a sensory overload. While every student at Melba Passmore Elementary School rushes towards the cafeteria to enjoy a noisy meal every day Kenlee likes it quiet. However, last week she was having a rather bad day and thankfully Ms. Esther noticed it and chose to curl up next to Kenlee to calm her down by rubbing her back.
"She really struggles with being in the cafeteria," revealed the 9-year-old's mother, Hollie Bellew-Shaw during an interview with TODAY. "There’s just so much commotion and noise." According to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, it's not unusual for an autistic person to exhibit repetitive behaviors and derive comfort from structure and routine; Kenlee too likes things to go as per schedule. "We were rushing and when we rush Kenlee things start to go downhill," said Hollie. "She’s very much into schedule and repetition." And whenever, the little girl's upset, she usually calms herself by placing her head on the table, however, it was a bit too much for her this time.
The school district said it’s an example of how a “kind word, a hug, and a little compassion are all it takes to make a huge difference in a child’s life.”— Joshin (@joshincare) 20 September 2019
A feel good story to brighten up your Friday!https://t.co/ptbQrvExhK#disabilityinclusion #autismsupport
Grabbing the blanket Kenlee carries with her, she made her way to the stage and began crying after lying down. Even before her mother could reach out to comfort her child, some else did. It was Miss Esther, who is referred to as Esther McCool by the students. Hollie immediately captured this beautiful moment and later uploaded it on Facebook and captioned it: Our school custodian is literally the best, sweetest individual in the world. The Hippy wanted no part of being in the cafeteria this morning with all the noise so she laid down w/her blanket on the stage. When Ms Esther saw her she came and laid next to her and patted her back. ❤️❤️❤️ ❤️💙💚💛🧩 All schools should be so lucky to have their own Angel on campus. Feel free to share so she can get all the appreciation & thanks she totally deserves. Even the school shared this picture on their Facebook account.
Appreciating Miss Esther's gesture the girl's mother said, "Miss Esther spoke to Kenlee in a sweet, soft voice and gently patted her back. Kenlee needed that quiet interaction to take her focus away from the craziness of the cafeteria." Even Natalie Hoskins, the Principal shared that the picture was a mere example of what Miss McCool really is. "Last year, we had a kiddo who didn’t have family come to any parties, so she would come and be that student’s family," said Hoskins during an interview with TODAY. "Esther will wash clothes if a child has an accident or gets muddy. She gives the best hugs. All she wants to do is help."
Esther, whose native language is Spanish, was quite shy about the attention she had been receiving. "I felt something was wrong and I went to make her feel better. I watch after the kids and make sure they are OK," she said via a translator. Despite being unable to converse in English, McCool does know how to communicate with children through love. "The heart doesn't have a language," she added.