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Old 11-07-2015, 01:23 PM
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Default Young hero: Autistic student saves classmate from choking

from SiLive.com: http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf...epage-featured
Young hero: Autistic student saves classmate from choking
By Diane C. Lore
on November 05, 2015 at 3:37 PM, updated November 05, 2015 at 7:51 PM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Thirteen-year-old Brandon Williams loves to watch Sponge Bob Squarepants, so when he spotted his classmate choking on an apple during lunch, he knew just what to do, having seen it on the popular cartoon show.

Brandon, who is autistic, quickly jumped up, pulled his classmate, Jessica Pellegrino, to her feet, and applied the Heimlich maneuver. Wrapping his arms around her mid-section, he gave a sharp thrust to her diaphragm, and she spit out the offender: a tricky piece of apple skin still attached to a morsel of fruit.

"I went like this," said Brandon, demonstrating the motion on his father, Anthony, in their Great Kills home, a few days after the Oct. 28 incident.

"Where did you learn that?" asked his dad.

"Learned it on Sponge Bob," Brandon answered instantly, in a rapid staccato voice.
"He picks up on things that most of us would miss, and files it all away in his head, and he can recall it all in an instant," his dad explained. "That's how he knew instantly what to do. And we're glad he did. We're proud of him."

The young man's quick, life-saving reaction comes on the heels of a 7-year-old Brooklyn student passing away days after she choked on her food during lunch.

Brandon is a seventh-grader at Barnes Intermediate School (I.S. 24) in Great Kills, where he's in a special-needs 12:1:1 class of a dozen students, along with Jessica. Each has a paraprofessional assigned during the school day.

The students eat lunch together as a class, sitting at the same table each day, and they all look out for one another, according to Pat DeMarco, the paraprofessional who works with Jessica.
Brian Griffin, Brandon's paraprofessional at school is a retired police officer from the NYPD's 122nd Precinct, who is trained in handling emergencies.

Griffin was with the class during lunch the day Jessica choked. "The cafeteria is always very noisy, but I heard the kids calling me. I was ready to jump in, but Brandon had it," Griffin said. "He was amazing. I've never seen anything like it."

Griffin said he's proud of Brandon, Jessica, and all the students in their class. "Some people may have preconceived notions about autism, but these kids are intelligent, loving, just amazing, kids," he said.

In school Thursday, Jessica had a broad smile and a big hug for her classmate who saved her. "Thank you," she murmured.

"I just love her," Brandon said quickly, putting his head down.

The class had a little party for Brandon and Jessica, and some of the adults in his school commented that Brandon is a hero, and deserves a medal. "I don't need a medal. I'm good; I'm good," he replied.
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