Bettendorf teen with autism helps classmate having seizure

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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) – Students on the special needs bus were ready to head home on Monday when one teen started seizing.

“I was scared but I said to myself, look he might die, I need to very woman up and take charge,” said Francine Pace, a student riding the bus who has autism.

She says she knew what to do and quickly jumped into action.

“I was wearing a jacket on this day and I had to take off my jacket use it as a shield making sure he doesn’t bump his head,” Pace said.

Pace, a junior at Bettendorf High School, says she used a paper towel to wipe the fluid from his mouth, called 911 and kept the other students on the bus back.

“They came in, took care of the kid and the kid ended up fine,” she said of paramedics who came to the scene.

Pace’s family says she reads at a 2nd or 3rd-grade level, but they say her comprehension is in line with her age. And this incident proved she can put lesson into action.

“Freshman year my friend had a seizure in front of us, I didn’t know what to do during that time so the nurse had a talk with us about what to do during a seizure,” Pace said.

Her dad, Mike, says he was hesitant to trust her story at first.

“It was not like I was distrusting her but you know it was more of trying to get verification of the way that she’s portraying what had happened versus what actually did happen,” Mike said.

Tuesday, Mike says he spoke with Associate Principal Kevin Skillet about the incident and he confirmed Pace’s account. The Bettendorf School District says an aide and the bus driver helped the student having the seizure.

Mike says he is happy his daughter can put life skills into action.

“And the fact that she did this in an emergency situation where she didn't have to stop and think or contemplate she just went ahead and acted that just speaks volumes,” Mike said.

Pace says she hopes to work in the medical field one day. Her family says they are looking into potential jobs that could be adjusted to accommodate her autism.