Brandon Williams sprung to action when he saw one of his classmates choking on an apple slice

By Lindsay Kimble
November 08, 2015 03:20 PM

When autistic student Brandon Williams saw his classmate choking on an apple slice, he immediately sprung into action performing the Heimlich maneuver – a life-saving technique he learned in a surprising place.

Brandon, who is in a special-needs 12:1:1 class at Barnes Intermediate School in Staten Island, New York, told that he picked up the maneuver from an episode of Nickelodeon animated series Spongebob Squarepants.

The 13-year-old said when he noticed one of the other students in his class, Jessica Pellegrino, “choking in her mouth.”

“I’m at the foot of the table, and I had my back turned for a second, and I hear one of my students yelling ‘Mr. Griffin, Mr. Griffin!’ ” Brian Griffin, Para Professional at the school told “So, I turn around and I see Brandon on top of Jess. I didn’t realize what was going on. And then I realize that Jess was choking on an apple and Brandon had started doing the Heimlich.”

The Great Kills seventh grader’s dad Anthony Williams told that Brandon often “picks up on things” that most people wouldn’t see, like the bits used on Spongebob.

“[He] 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.”

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And Brandon’s “good friend” Jessica is certainly grateful. The autistic 13-year-old told ABC7NY that Brandon is “awesome, and cute.”

Griffin, who works with the classroom’s 12 students, said the incident may help people shed “preconceived notions about autism,” reported

“These kids are intelligent, loving, just amazing, kids,” Griffin said.

According to, the class had a party for both Brandon and Jessica, rewarding Brandon for his heroic act. The teen remained humble, however.

“I don’t need a medal. I’m good; I’m good,” he said.