A Tennessee mom is singing the praises of an Apple Store employee who made a huge impact on her autistic son with a simple act of understanding and kindness.
LynnMarie Rink told INSIDE EDITION that her son James, who has Down syndrome and at age six was diagnosed with autism, needed a new iPad just as winter storm Jonas was blowing through the state.
James' gadget helps him communicate and keep him occupied. It had lasted for years, but Rink suddenly found herself faced with the prospect of a snowed-in week with no iPad and no school for nine-year-old James.
"Living with James can be a challenge," Rink told INSIDE EDITION from her Nashville home. "I'm not the spokesperson who says it's easy. I'm the person who admits: 'This is hard.'"
One challenge, said Rink, is taking James out to a crowded public place like the mall, which is where the Apple Store happens to be. Rink had recently been given a grant from the Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation Charitable Trust to buy James a new iPad and she knew this was the time she needed it most.
"You never know how he's gonna respond... But I was not going to spend days in the house with no school for James and no iPad," Rink joked.
After spending 20 minutes in the mall elevators (Rink says James really loves going up and down), the mom and son made it to the Apple Store. That's when things became dicey and a kind employee named Andrew came to their aid.
"James took off running, he's fast and he's strong, and he ran straight into the wall," said Rink.
In a Facebook post about the incident that is getting national attention, Rink wrote: "I ran to him and tried to comfort him. James has a very high tolerance for pain, so his tears and ‘fat lip’ were brief. Mine however were not."
In the mostly quiet Apple store, Rink explained that the incident won them a lot of unwanted attention. It also caught the eye of the 23-year-old Apple employee, Andrew.
"Andrew came by and he just sat down," Rink told INSIDE EDITION. "He didn't give me a million dollars, he didn't hug us. He just said 'What do you need'? And he sat down."
Rink said they had one seemeingly odd request that Andrew had no problem accommodating. "Can you sell me this iPad on the floor?" she asked.
Andrew replied: "Absolutely."
Rink said that James remained calm and "present with Andrew" throughout their time at the store, something he doesn't do with everybody.
Rink's post about the interaction has attracted attention from national news outlets as well as her local Nashville TV stations and she believes the story is going viral because it's just so simple.
"He has no clue what he did for us," said Rink, who's chronicled the joys and struggles of being a mother of a special needs child in her upcoming memoir Wrap Your Heart Around It.
Meanwhile, Rink's attempts to get Andrew recognized publicly and by Apple big wigs has led hundreds of other employees to reach out to say "this is why I work at Apple," said the mom.
Andrew himself reached out to Rink, with a message as simple as his act was kind.
"Hey Lynn, I want to say thank you so much for your kind words," he said.
"I began working at Apple in hopes of having fulfiling moments like this.
"Post-Apple, my hopes are to work within the realm of youth counseling. Thanks again for making my day."