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10. Last May, Aaron Cahal, who is autistic and cannot speak, heard screams coming from a home nearby and knew someone was in trouble. Although he didn’t know what was happening, he used his iPhone to take a picture of the house where the commotion was coming from and sent it to police, along with the message: Police we need police I heard big crying people scary people. Police were able to determine the location and had emergency units there in minutes. What Aaron heard were adults screaming when they found an 18-month-old boy had fallen into a pool and was drowning. Paramedics worked quickly and were able to save the boy’s life… as did Aaron.
9. 10-year-old Alex Perex was riding his school bus home along with six other students when all of a sudden Alex, who has autism, noticed the smell of smoke. He quickly alerted the bus driver and she pulled over. First responders were able to get everyone off the bus before it burst into flames. Many of those with autism have dysfunctional sensory systems, but Alex has a high sensory system when it comes to smells and sounds. Alex credits the first responders with helping everyone. But it sounds like Alex himself played a big role in everyone’s safety.
8. Brent Gilbert forced his way into the home of Becky Mulcahy and demanded her prescription drugs and money. When she told him she didn’t have any, he began stabbing her in the face. Becky’s autistic son, Shelbie, who is only 6 years old, picked up a tire iron and whacked Gilbert in the head. As the man lay unconscious, Becky, Shelbie and Shelbie’s sister, Lachie, escaped to a neighbor’s home and called police. Gilbert spent four days in the hospital in a coma. When he came to, he was arrested and later pleaded guilty to the crime.
7. Every week, 6-year-old Jacob Tumalan, who has autism, visits his local animal shelter in California to read to puppies. Along with this improving his reading skills, it has also helped him come out of his shy shell to a degree. His mother says she is very proud of him for taking on this challenge.
6. When you’re young, it’s a hard thing to stand up to a bully. But when you have autism and deal with bullies on an extremely mature level… well, that’s pretty extraordinary. Jake was being bullied in his gym class, when suddenly he talked to all of them, saying, “I don’t think you guys see me for me. I think you guys see me as a big target. You guys are always leaving me out of stuff … never paying attention to me or anything I say. I want to try to be your friend, but you don’t try to be mine and that really makes me feel … bad.” I don’t know about you guys, but that made perfect, mature sense to me. A video of this is being used in the BULLY Project, and can be viewed in our Show More area.
5. Now, this one’s a little different. But we felt the need to use it anyway. Riley, a 5-year-old boy with Downs Syndrome, got stuck in a dryer as it was tumbling clothes. The family’s dog, a cockapoo named Teddy, went berserk, trying to warn mom and dad that Riley was in serious danger. Teddy got mom’s attention and started racing back and forth toward the room with the dryer. When mom got to the area, she could hear loud banging and see Riley’s iPad going round and round in the dryer. She quickly stopped the dryer, got Riley out and called for emergency crews. Riley suffered burns to his arms, back and head. His injuries could have been much more serious if not for Teddy the dog.
4. It’s unusual for a family dog to turn on its owner, but it does happen from time to time. When the usually calm 2-year-old dog Lexi was snapping at another dog in the house, Dana Lyall intervened. Lexi then attacked her, biting hard at the back of her leg and trying to climb up her body toward her neck. Lexi was in kill mode. She lunged at Dana several times until Oscar spotted what was going on. Oscar, who is autistic, calmly grabbed the dog and pulled her into the bathroom and shut the door. He then dialed the number for emergencies. Four years later, Oscar was recognized for his actions with the Australian Bravery Award.
3. In Milwaukee, 15-year-old Joseph Brown, who has autism, is being called a hero after he chased a car that hit a young boy. The 8-year-old boy was even being dragged by the car. Joseph ran up to the car window and pounded on it to get the attention of the driver, who stopped. His quick actions saved the boy’s life.
2. Christopher Miller’s grandfather cringed when Chris came home with a heavy-duty jack he’d picked up at a garage sale during the summer. What on earth would a boy with autism do with such a thing, he thought. A short time later, Chris heard screams coming from his neighbor’s driveway. The neighbor was working underneath his car when it fell on him. Chris ran and got that heavy-duty jack that grandpa shook his head about and was able to lift the car off of his neighbor. Emergency workers arrived soon and got the neighbor to the hospital. Only seven months earlier, Chris had a stroke and his doctors said he would not walk again. But Chris proved them quite wrong.
1. 12-year-old Alex Swigart of Bisbee, Arizona, smelled smoke one night and quickly ran to wake up his father, Joseph, and his father’s girlfriend. The two hurriedly ran out of the house but Joesph decided he wanted to try to deal with the fire, so he ran to get a hose. Then, he realized Alex was no longer by his side. When he tried to run back inside the house to look for Alex, officers at the scene held him back. By this time, flames were pouring from the house. Then Joseph yelled for Alex. Everyone could then hear Alex say, “Daddy, I can’t breathe.” Those were his last words. When the fire was finally put out, an extremely broken-hearted father walked through his home’s charred remains. There were burned comic books, playing cards… a bicycle. And most everything metal had melted from the extreme heat. Everything except one. You see, Alex’s dad, Joseph was a Gulf War veteran, and he was awarded a commander’s coin for his distinguished service. Alex loved that coin that his dad had. That coin that was found right next to where firefighters recovered Alex’s body. And it was completely intact.
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