‘This sweet man let her cuddle right there on his lap’: Mother praises fireman who comforted her autistic three-year-old daughter when she was overwhelmed by preschool safety visit
- Kayli Templeton has autism and struggles with changes to her routine
- California Wheatland Fire Authority firefighters recently visited her preschool for a safety presentation, and Kayli cowered in a corner and looked ‘afraid’
- She eventually warmed up to firefighter Anthony Banas, 25, who gave her a hug
- Anthony has a younger brother with autism
- Kayli and her mom have since visited him at the local firehouse
A firefighter who comforted a scared child with autism is earning praise after a heartwarming photo of their hug made headlines.
Three-year-old Kayli Templeton was a bit overwhelmed when California Wheatland Fire Authority firefighters recently visited her preschool for a presentation, retreating into a corner.
But she soon connected with fireman Anthony Banas, who has a younger brother with autism and recognized her distress.
What a guy! Fireman Anthony Banas recently visited a preschool for a safety presentation and comforted three-year-old Kayli Templeton, who has autism and was overwhelmed
Fast friends! Kayli had been cowering in a corner but soon took to the kind firefighter
Kayli’s mom Brittany Templeton told Fox 40 that the little girl was diagnosed just this September, and she has some sensory issues with sound and touch.
And when her routine is interrupted — like when the firefighters visited for their safety presentation — she has a hard time.
‘We were showing the children our gear to make it less scary than it might be in a real situation, and I noticed Kayli in the corner with her teacher. She looked afraid,’ 25-year-old Anthony told Yahoo.
He recognized some of the signs of autism because his 20-year-old brother is also on the spectrum.
Family: Anthony, 25, has a 20-year-old brother who is also on the spectrum, so he recognized the signs
Kayli’s mom Brittany said she has a hard time with some noises and changes to her routine, but her heart was warmed that Anthony took care of her
Such fun! Kayli has since visited Anthony at the fire station and got to play on the truck
‘She didn’t have that usual shyness of children her age,’ he said.
But during a Q&A session, Kayli had warned up to to Anthony and walked over to give him a hug.
Someone snapped a photo and shared it on the Wheatland Fire Authority Facebook page, and the snap warmed Kayli’s mother’s heart.
‘There were new people in her regular environment asking kids to try this and do this which would be AWESOME to most kids — but for her it can be overwhelming,’ Brittany explained.
‘This sweet man let her cuddle and relax right there on his lap for who knows how long because he could just tell she was having a hard time.
New obsession: Her mom says she’s on a firefighter kick now
‘The department is right down the street from our home, so we will have to visit again,’ she said
‘This sweet man let her cuddle and relax right there on his lap for who knows how long because he could just tell she was having a hard time,’ Brittany said
‘As a parent, this kind of diagnosis can leave you wondering how each day is going to be. If someone is going to show her compassion, or judgement. And yesterday, it was compassion.
‘Anyway, it warmed my heart and I thought the community should know the story behind the photo they posted yesterday,’ she said.
Since the first meeting, Kayli has visited Anthony, who is also an emergency room technician and a Navy Reservist, at the fire department, where she got to play on the fire truck and had more hugs.
‘Kayli is on this firefighter kick now,’ her mom said. ‘The department is right down the street from our home, so we will have to visit again.’