Video of SoCal Autistic Boy, Trash Man's Special Moment Goes Viral

A boy with autism's fear of garbage trucks turned into fascination

By Whitney Irick
|  Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014  |  Updated 5:08 PM EDT
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Daniel Mulligan, a 5-year-old boy diagnosed with autism, has a weekly ritual: he patiently waits all week for Monday morning trash pickup.

However, last week’s routine pickup was anything but ordinary. Manuel Sanchez, a garbage collector for E.J. Harrison & Sons, parked his turquoise garbage truck in front of Daniel’s Ojai home and asked his mother, Robin Newberger, if he could give the boy a present.

Newberger says that the boy’s fear of garbage trucks turned into fascination after watching a YouTube video. Daniel has been obsessed with garbage trucks ever since.

Sanchez got out of his truck and handed the boy a bag containing a surprise gift: a plastic garbage truck, similar to the one that Sanchez drives, was inside. 

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Newberger recorded the exchange on her camera, just as she has several other times.

“We have so many ‘Trash Day’ videos, but this one is like no other,” Newberger wrote on her Facebook page. “Our hearts are overflowing.”

Daniel’s mom wrote an extended message about the video on her Facebook page and sent the 96-second clip to Autism Speaks.

Since the science and advocacy organization reposted the video on Feb. 12, it has almost 1,000 shares and has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.

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The kindness that Sanchez demonstrated when he thought no one was watching was captured on camera and is capturing the hearts of thousands, too.

“Manuel is a very humble man and feels overwhelmed and embarrassed by all the attention he is receiving,” Harrison Industries said in a press release. “In fact, he said he was embarrassed after seeing the video because he did not wrap the toy trash truck but gave it to Daniel in a plastic bag.”

The company says “it is an honor” to have Sanchez as an employee.

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