“Kid Hero Saves Teacher”

Standard

Kid Hero Saves Teacher is a headline that was just pointed out to me.

Brendon quickly came to Kenser’s rescue.

“I just ran over when she passed out,” said Brendon. He got to her purse and grabbed her inhaler, gave it to his groggy teacher and saved her life. He says he knew what to do from a scene in the movie “Are We There Yet.”

“If I didn’t see that movie, I wouldn’t know what to do,” said Brendon.

“After the event he said ”You know Mrs. Kenser, TV’s not so badhuh?'” said Kenser.

Brendon’s family is very proud of him. His mother and teachers point out something that makes this young hero even more amazing. Brendon has autism, something that usually affects communication and social skills. Kenser and Brendon’s mother hope others will see autistic kids, like Brendon, are full of potential and capable of incredible things like saving a life.

This is the actual definition of doing something heroic. Not “overcoming a disability,” but doing something to save another person’s life, or putting yourself on the line for the sake of others, and other things like that. (See We can be heroes… just having a beer for a more in-depth discussion of the putting of disabled people on undeserved pedestals as heroic. A quote from it, “We don’t need the false praise. We’ve earned the real thing.”)

There’s one thing that’s wrong in the article though. It isn’t that heroic acts on the part of autistic people are amazing. I’d imagine we’re no more or less likely to do so than average, and even a study awhile back showed we cared just as much about other people as anyone else, as long as we could understand the social situation. What’s amazing is that people haven’t noticed yet that our “social and communication deficits,” when they exist, don’t prevent us from caring. When we do things like this and are framed as exceptions for doing so, then nobody has to question the rule. The fact is, we’re not exceptions for caring about other people, and for doing what we know how to do to help them. That’s normal, it’s common to both autistic and non-autistic people (once said person understands the situation, which both autistic and non-autistic people frequently misunderstand in various ways). It’s just exceptional whenever anyone happens to notice this about us, to look past whatever stereotypes they have about us to see that this is one area in which we inhabit the same range of caring as anyone else.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

20 responses »

  1. As you know, me and some others have been going through a lot of stuff lately, and you’ve definitely demonstrated concern for us and compassion.

    My autistic friends are the first people I go to when I need someone to show they care about me. It’s not that my NT friends don’t care (they do), but rather that my autistic friends are more likely to understand “the social situation”.

    So it works both ways. I think I can speak for others, too, in thanking you for caring about us.

  2. Doesn’t the article you posted, by its nature, draw more attention to the fact that the boy has autism than the fact he saved his teacher’s life?

    If his autism hadn’t been mentioned, all of the focus would have been on his heroic act, and that would have been that. As it stands, readers might consider his heroism a “miracle”, the exception instead of the rule for this boy, and perhaps all children, with autism. And “deficits”…uggh.

    To me, the word “deficit” should only apply to a shortage of money, never so-called “functional skills” or any other “missing components” of a person’s abilities. Why can’t we let this pint-sized Superman bask in glory without mentioning the “Kryptonite” in his life?

  3. I just worry when I see stuff like this that folks will think that unless an autistic person does stuff that really is heroic and amazing, they’re not trying hard enough to prove they’re worthy of a place in society . . . or something. Meh. Inarticulate. Disclaimer. Perhaps I mean something closer to what Tysyacha said about readers considering the kid an exception to the rule.

    “I heard about this retarded guy that they sterilized but he had a kid and the kid went on to be a brain surgeon. What do you think of that?”

    “I think they didn’t do a very good job sterilizing him, did they?”

  4. I think it was the reporter who incorrectly framed this incident by saying and I quote “something that makes this young hero even more amazing. Brendon has autism,”as if autism affects his ability to care…I am sure Brendon’s parents are not surprised he helped as they must know their son as a caring person.That is what the public needs to understand…that autism may effect communication and social interaction but it does not touch the heart, soul and spirit and caring is definitely a part of that…I think through blogs like this one and videos that many autistics are putting out there people are beginning to realize that autistics are caring…and full of humor…and imagination…all things once thought not a part of an autistic person’s personality…. The field of psychology/psychiatry has put forth many of these myths by it’s claim to know all and it’s short sightedness. I remember as a young child my parent’s believed I was making up the fact that my dreams were in color because psychologists back in the 40’s stated that people dream in black and white…A lot has been laid out there to be true of Autistics that is just plain wrong through ignorance and proliferation in the press…The frigeratr mom theory is another example of one of these myths. The more that can be done to reveal the true nature of Autistics in blogs and film and the media the quicker we can break through these myths…

    As for caring…I remember the time an elderly gentleman was having a medical emergency and the only one who stopped to help him outside your apt. was you. I truly have seen much empathy throughout the autism community…whenever anyone has a problem or needs help or a kind word. There is no heart lacking here…

  5. Yay for Brendan and Yay for you too!

    I agree that once again they are using the wrong context as I do Care, you do Care. I was really impressed on one of your earlier posts by the letter the Downs lady had written about a child having been saved. She Cared too.

    In fact, I find a lot more Caring in the way Hub blogs write than in the way many ‘advocacy organizations’ try to help.

    Thanks for being here AB.

  6. I wonder how they came up with the idea that people dream in black and white. I’ve never dreamed in black and white.

    We’ve also been told that you can’t read in dreams (we have, in fact, we’ve had a lot of dreams involving reading) and that you can’t smell in dreams. On the last one, while it’s not usually a detail we remember from our dreams, we do remember having had at least a few dreams where we could smell things, also.

  7. Oh definitely you can smell in dreams, and I wish you couldn’t, because it’s been pretty disgusting for me in some of the more macabre dreams I’ve had. And you can feel in them too…

  8. I can’t smell in dreams.
    Forget black-and-white – I’ve never had a dream that *didn’t* have vivid colors, regardless of how ‘relevant’ they are.
    My dreams consist mostly of a silent movie with sort of thought voice-over/subtitles. What I mean is that I don’t hear anything (or see the words written) but I *know* what is said. Smell and taste are absent, touch is mostly absent as well. Pretty much my dreams are like my memories in sensory form.

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled in dreams, although I’ve certainly felt in them. And yes, there’s color in them.

    Until I was an adult, there wasn’t ever people in them though.

  10. Definitely smell in dreams. So dependent on smell, in fact, that I could probably be convinced that my dreams really were in black and white, and I was just *smelling* the colors.

  11. I really do hate that when people say I’m a hero because I’ve done what it takes for me to preserve my own life…but, hey, if it gets someone to buy me beers, then I’ll let them do it. ;)

  12. smelling in dreams is possible, I remember one or two times at least………..

    Athena remembers a dream in which hot rice fell on her leg. It smelled like fresh warm rice………hard to describe it.

    Athena felt like a hero last night for enduring a sensory cacophony (it was HORRIFIC!) to hang out and eat dinner with people at a fellowship gathering for our Honor Society……that’s how she described it………cried herself to sleep though.

  13. It makes me angry when the media has to mention someone’s disability, even when it has no relevance to the story. It would have been ok if the reporter had included as side note, such as Mountain Rose’s above, about how this boy’s heroism goes against the mmyth that people who have autism also have cold, uncaring hearts. But no, it wasn’t a constructive commentary like that; it was just “amazing”. Ugh!

  14. Here’s another story that has some of the same problems as the above:

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/18/hero.kid.ap/index.html

    Basically a little girl (7 years old) saves her mother’s life by bodily flinging herself between her Mom and bullets. She is described as learning disabled (though it is not clear from the story if they mean some specific area learning disability, such as dyslexia etc, or if they mean intellectual disability in the way “learning disabled” is used in countries like the UK; the cops at least seem to be assuming the latter).

    The line in this story that annoys me is a mention that the cops are not sure the girl really knew what she was doing because of her disability. Her Mom and her classmates all seem convinced that she is a hero and are treating her like one. But the cops are skeptical.

    In my mind, if there is a question here, it should be based on her age. Most children that age have only a fuzzy conception of death (I know I did) and weak ability to understand the full consequences of their actions. So she might have read the situation as dangerous and wanted to protect her Mom, but might not have fully understood the life and death aspects of it, if that makes any sense. But whatever her level of comprehension, the story says she shouted, “Don’t hurt my Mom” when she flung herself onto her mother, so it seems pretty clear to me that there was a protective instinct in play. So I’m not sure why the cops would be so wary of claiming her as a hero: they seem to reacting more from their assumptions about disability than they are to the actual facts of the case. At her age, disabled or not, she was hero enough. And I think this is another example of a story where the girl’s disability was not really that relevant to the story except as the basis for the cops trying to discredit her ability to understand the situation.

  15. Andrea: Thanks for the article. I have to wonder if it was really the cops who were skeptical, or if it was the reporter. I can sort of imagine the reporter saying something to the effect of, “Learning disabled? Well, then, can we really know for sure if she knew what she was doing?” and the cops answering that, of course, nobody can know for sure.

    Man, that whole situation depresses the hell out of me. It also bothers me deeply that the mother jumped out of the car but left the little girl there . . . deep sigh for all of humanity . . .

  16. Andrea: I read about that, and I totally agree that she was a hero for her mother. Whether or not she fully understood the situation has more to do with her young age than her disability, but I believe she did understand pretty well. Kids, all kinds of kids, can say/do/think of/understand the darndest things. Darndest in this case meant life-threatening…..for her mom. It can mean whatever the situation calls for. Certainly this instance gives that old saying a whole new meaning, imho (the saying that kids say the darndest things…..)

    TI

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