ROY, Utah — A Utah mother said her "heart exploded with gratitude" after seeing how teachers and classmates surprised her son at Roy Junior High School last week.
Merrick Kinser, who was born with a rare genetic disorder called 1p36, is in his first year at the school.
Because of the disorder, which causes sensory issues, Merrick often uses a one-on-one room when he becomes overstimulated by the sounds that come from a classroom full of students. Carina Kinser, Merrick's mother, wrote that the room gives her 13-year-old son a "safe and quiet place to learn."
Carina told FOX 13 News that if Merrick becomes too overstimulated, it could cause him to go into seizures.
"His life is a train, it really is," said Carina. "One minute we're on the train, one minute we're off the train. Sometimes his life derails. And we get that train back on."
In a post to Facebook, Carina said the first year at the school has been hard on Merrick as he didn't know anyone. However, Rebecca Holley, one of Merrick's teachers, asked for some help from the art teacher, Alisa Webb, who joined with aides and students to come together to make him feel part of the Roy Junior High School family.
The group surprised Merrick, whose family call him their baby Dumbo, by painting his one-on-one room with elephants and a banner with his name.
Carina said she was on the treadmill when she received the images and said she instantly started to cry.
"I truly wish I could thank those involved in person. By these pictures you can see how happy this made my son," Carina said.
Since seeing the surprise artwork, Carina added that Merrick "hasn't stopped talking about 'his Dumbos,'" saying how the kindness shown by his teachers and classmates has gone a long way and that "new friends are being made."
"They added his name to it, which is silly and it's simple, but it gave him a place of home and a place of refuge and a safe place for him to play and to be accepted and to be himself," Carina said about the painting.
Carina hopes to one day meet everyone involved in the artwork and share with them how special it was for Merrick and the family.
"It is absolutely amazing how wonderful the teachers especially Mrs. Holley, her aides and now his peers have been to Merrick," wrote Carina. "If your student helped make this happen, thank you so much!"