Sunnyvale Police Officer Comforts Distressed Special Needs Child

A Sunnyvale police officer on Monday came to the aid of a distraught special needs boy, who was kicking and screaming, in the throes of a breakdown.

Corinne Oestreich took to Facebook to express her gratitude for the policeman, identified only as Officer Ben, who helped her son, Hunter, who struggles with Tourette syndrome, anxiety and obsessive–compulsive disorder. According to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, the officer's name is Benjamin Holt.

The 5-year-old boy was very upset because his grandmother had just taken a flight back home to Minnesota, Oestreich said. The Sunnyvale residents were at a Lucky supermarket when Hunter experienced “the worst breakdown” his mother had “ever seen him go through in his life so far.”

“I held him, I consoled him,” Oestreich wrote. “I firmly and kindly stayed calm, yet inside I was terrified of the looks from other shoppers, or rather from their averted eyes as my son threw himself on the floor of Luckys.”

While Oestreich attempted in vain to get Hunter into her car, he simply continued to strike himself in the face, she said.

That’s when Holt arrived on scene, and turned the day around.

As Oestreich battled tears, the officer guided Hunter from “hysterical crying to quiet interest.”

“He very calmly was able to distract my Hunter, let him see the inside of the patrol car and even took time to demonstrate to Hunter how to look for finger prints!” Oestrich wrote.

She continued: “Officer Ben was understanding, wanted to make sure that I knew he was not in any haste to go anywhere and that Hunter and I were his focus. He kept a distance from Hunter and I could tell he was gauging how much Hunter would allow him to be near him.”

The grateful mother gave a shout-out to the Sunnyvale Police Department for their “amazing officer.”

Not only did Holt help Hunter, but gave her “some reinforcements.”

“Thank you thank you thank you,” Oestreich said, concluding with a heart emoji.

Holt declined to speak with NBC Bay Area, but department spokesman Capt. Shawn Ahearn said that he was "proud" to have been able to use techniques — on interacting with special needs children and adults — that officers had been trained in earlier this year. 

Holt was "really just happy that everything worked out OK," Ahearn said. 

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