It’s funny to see the things young kids take an interest in. Things that just seem like a part of our everyday routine can be endlessly fascinating to a child.
This is especially true for kids with autism, who often take an extreme interest in the most unexpected things.
For example, 5-year-old Daniel Newberger loved garbage trucks.
He used to be afraid of them, but somewhere along the line, he turned his fear into a fascination. “I showed him a YouTube video of a garbage truck a couple of years ago and he’s been obsessed ever since,” his mother, Robin Newberger, wrote in a Facebook post.
Every week, he would go out to see the garbage trucks arrive to take their trash and recycling away. He would watch with fascination as the truck mechanically lifted the cans.
“Like many children on the autism spectrum, this has become a ritual for him,” Newberger wrote. “He loves the predictable movement of the hoist and is excited by the entire spectacle. He waits all week for Monday morning pickup.”
“To him, trash pickup is like a symphony. He synchronizes his hand movements with the truck.”
His parents, always encouraging their son’s interest, would wait outside the house with him.
“We will literally be waiting outside for hours on trash day because he hears the truck in the neighborhood and can’t focus on anything else,” Newberger told ABC News.
Daniel’s favorite pickup man is named Manuel, who always has a big smile for him.
But one Monday was particularly special.
The truck would automatically empty the bins, without the driver having to exit the vehicle. But that day, Manual was leaving his truck. At first, Daniel seemed concerned about the change in ritual.
But as Manuel got out of the truck, he asked the parents a question.
“Can I give a present to him?”
His parents gladly agreed, surprised that the worker would make such a gesture.
But they were stunned when he came towards them with a big plastic bag with a box inside and handed it to Daniel.
They looked inside and were amazed.
It was a toy garbage truck!
Manuel, knowing how passionate the child was about garbage trucks, bought it for him out of his own pocket.
The parents were incredibly moved by the gesture. And when they saw the truck, they were amazed by a coincidence: It was the same kind of toy garbage truck Daniel used to have, which had broken.
“It was just amazing because it was the same one and Manuel had no idea,” Newberger told ABC News.
“That made it all the more incredible to us.”
Manuel jokingly offered the kid his real truck, too.
“One man, one moment, touching the life of an autistic child,” Newberger wrote. “Our hearts are overflowing.”
Newberger captured the whole thing on video—she would often record her son’s reactions to the garbage trucks, but never expected something like this would happen. When she posted the video on Facebook, it went viral and was picked up by the organization Autism Speaks. When word of Manuel’s selfless action reached his company, they praised their employee—and rewarded him with a restaurant gift certificate.
“This was something he did absolutely on his own,” a spokesperson for E.J. Harrison and Sons told ABC News. “We’re so proud of him.”
Newberger has been happy with the attention the video has received.
“I’m glad it’s showing the positive side of autism,” she told ABC News.
“The response has been so overwhelming.”