Levi will be able to have a special Santa photo this year.
Levi will be able to have a special Santa photo this year. Vanessa Jarrett

'There was no judgement': Mum's surprise from stranger

THE kindness of a stranger can be a powerful thing.

Last week, single mum Mel Miguel-Sanchez was in Biloela Shoppingworld when her autistic son was having a meltdown.

Out of nowhere, a stranger came up to her and said "you're doing a good job, keep going".

The kind words completely threw Ms Miguel-Sanchez.

"It was just the right time," she said.

"There was just no judgement, friendly faces and warms words.

"Just a person to come out of the crowd was nice."

To say thank you Ms Miguel-Sanchez posted her appreciation of the kind stranger on a Biloela buy swap and sell Facebook site and through some sharing was put in touch with the lady, Lynn Van Itallie.

"We have been in touch and I have been texting her to say thank you," she said.

Ms Miguel-Sanchez's son, Levi, was diagnosed with autism in April 2015, just after he turned two.

"I didn't know much about autism back then, there was no sort of information, no one talked about it," she said.

Being in a regional town like Biloela has had its limitations in gaining support and assistance.

"It is harder to access support as such, if you don't get out there you don't know it's there," Ms Miguel-Sanchez said.

"The other struggle is when they do come out they are all booked out."

One service Levi does partake in regularly is speech pathology, for which he goes once a fortnight to when the pathologist comes to Biloela.

"He has been doing it about two years now, he didn't talk at all when he was little and now he has blossomed, he manages to put words together and says sentences."

With the new NDIS program now coming into play, Ms Miguel-Sanchez said she wasn't sure how it would affect her.

"The NDIS has been a nightmare, I am still waiting on a call back, I keep getting told different things," she said.

While she has found some challenges, Ms Miguel-Sanchez said Biloela was now her home and she couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

The mother moved to Biloela for a fresh start with a six-month old Levi and hasn't looked back.

"I love it, the people are awesome, the town is cool, I just love it here," Ms Miguel-Sanchez said. "I have finally found my home, I have found where I belong."

The biggest issue Ms Miguel-Sanchez faces is going out in public with Levi as he likes to run off.

"He is just a runner, he is really fast, you can yell at him, bribe him, nothing will interest him," she said.

Noises and crowds also make him uncomfortable and, with Christmas approaching, it makes going out even harder.

In a major victory, Biloela Shoppingworld is hosting a sensory Santa for the Santa photos this year.

The sensory Santa is held on a Sunday when most of the shops are closed and there will be minimal noise, dimmed lights and small crowds, as it is by appointment.

"It is such a great idea, I am so excited," Ms Miguel-Sanchez said.

"I just want him to be able to hug him, he loves Santa Claus, he calls him Christmas."

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