Young woman with autism overcomes fear with help of zoo worker - WNEM TV 5

Young woman with autism overcomes fear with help of zoo worker

Posted: Updated:
Source: Denise Wilhelm Crawford Source: Denise Wilhelm Crawford
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A Mid-Michigan mother is taking to social media to thank a zoo worker for giving her daughter with autism an experience of a lifetime.   

Denise Wilhelm Crawford and her 19-year-old daughter, Laryssa, visited the Saginaw Children’s Zoo on Friday. Crawford said after enjoying two hours at the park, they decided to head toward the exit.

The mother had bought tickets for the carousel but her daughter was unsure.

Laryssa has Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to her mother, and has high anxiety, is very sensitive to loud sounds and doesn’t like new experiences.

That’s when Crawford said the zoo worker, Heidi Schmitzer, stepped in.

“The worker could sense my daughter's fear and immediately turned the music down and calmly encouraged her to give it a try - we decided to ride sitting on the bench seat - she told my daughter that if she liked the ride and wanted to try one of the horses, she could ride again,” Crawford said.

The encouragement worked.

“Each time we passed the worker, she shouted words of encouragement to my daughter - by the end of the ride [Laryssa] was smiling and feeling confident,” Crawford said.

At the end of the ride, Heidi and Laryssa shared a high-five with big smiles. Crawford said she owes Heidi for creating such a wonderful memory for her daughter.

“She totally enjoyed the Carousel experience and it was all because of Heidi, the worker who was so sensitive to her needs,” Crawford said. 

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