A three-year-old’s universe is one of wonderment, excitement and one new discovery after another. As they learn about the world around them, though, a preschooler may appear unable to form rational thoughts. After all, they are seemingly still at a very early stage in understanding how the world works.
However, a 2010 paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science challenged this viewpoint. Yes, in contrast, it stated that even the youngest of children are very much in tune with the emotions and beliefs of those around them. And perhaps even more surprisingly, the paper also revealed that children could point out when someone was acting abnormally.
Then, seven years after the paper was published, a three-year-old from Silsbee, Texas, would prove the study correct. You see, she somehow noticed that her baby brother was no longer breathing – a movement and sound so subtle that even an adult may miss it.
But by subsequently alerting the adults in her house, the young girl ensured that her brother received the medical attention that he needed. Doctors were then able to uncover the shocking reason why he was fighting for air – and it was a condition not normally regarded as a huge risk to little ones.
Autumn Kern’s Facebook page is filled with images of her three children. The photos make one thing patently clear: she adores being a mom to the children whom she raises with her husband Tex. And it seems as though her daughter, Joze-Lynn, has learned a thing or two about parenting from her mom and dad, too.
Joze-Lynn couldn’t tear her eyes away from her baby brother Kayson, in fact. Yes, she was so intrigued by the breath of new life in her family’s home that she kept a constant watch over him. And, probably unknowingly, she mentally recorded his day-to-day behaviors, long before the moment that he needed her help.
That’s how she was able to notice something unusual about her brother’s behavior, then. You see, when Kayson was just two weeks old, he stopped breathing. Thankfully, though, Joze-Lynn realized what had happened and ran to tell the grown-ups in the house.
“She came in and said Kayson had stopped breathing,” her grandmother, Pam Chance, later told KBMT, an ABC affiliate in southeast Texas. “It scared me to death.” But Joze-Lynn’s terrifying observation also inspired her parents to spring into action.
“He was dying,” Joze-Lynn recalled. “He couldn’t breathe or anything.” Acting fast, parents Autumn and Tex then picked up the baby boy and began to pat his back, hoping to dislodge whatever may have blocked his breathing. And to the huge relief of all concerned, their quick thinking worked.
“He gasped for air,” Autumn, explained. And it was clearly a moment that must have brought the whole family a great amount of happiness. “If it wasn’t for my daughter or my husband, our son wouldn’t be here today,” the mom added.
Kayson’s health scare wasn’t over yet, though. You see, because the baby had stopped breathing so suddenly, the Kerns understandably sought medical care for him. So, the tiny tot was subsequently transported to Beaumont’s Baptist Hospital, Texas, a 21-mile drive from the family’s home in Silsbee.
And there, doctors discovered that the Kern family’s youngest member had stopped breathing for a very surprising reason. Yes, it turned out that Kayson was suffering from reflux, a relatively common condition in young babies – especially those younger than six months old.
In most cases, reflux simply means that a baby spits up during a feeding or just after one. It is different to vomiting, too. Indeed, while vomiting causes a sharp contraction of muscles, reflux sees babies spit up their food without any effort at all.
What’s more, a lot of babies experience this reaction because their oesophaguses aren’t fully developed. And that’s why it’s not normally a serious condition. In fact, most babies lose their reflux by the time that they’re tucking into their first birthday cakes. At that age, you see, their food pipes has finally finished developing.
Young Kayson’s case of reflux, however, was a great deal more serious. Indeed, as the director of pediatrics at Baptist Hospital, Regan Sciarrilla, told KBMT, “With young infants, food comes up from their tummy and if it comes up too high, it can cut off their breathing.”
In many cases, though, a simple adjustment can sort the problem out. This can involve changing the way that parents hold a baby while feeding them, the amount that they feed an infant or the number of times that they burp their child. But Autumn told Woman’s World that her son’s reflux is more difficult to deal with than that.
“Kayson’s reflux is so bad that he has to slow his breathing just to control it,” Autumn said. As such, the Kerns vowed to watch their young son very closely after every feeding to make sure that his reflux didn’t cut off his breathing again.
And Autumn also realized how lucky the family was the first time around. On that occasion, Joze-Lynn thankfully recognized that her brother was in distress, and the mother-of-three thinks there could be a lesson for all families. Yes, Autumn has suggested that other parents could teach their children to be on the lookout for such symptoms in their siblings, too.
“If you have more than one child, make sure they know what to look for,” she advised. “You never know, your child may just save a life.” Happily, perceptive Joze-Lynn was able to do that all on her own, and that’s something her family isn’t likely to forget anytime soon.
And one day Kayson will know, too, that his sister saved his life. In fact, their mother believes that the experience will create a bond beyond that of regular siblings. Indeed, as Autumn would tell KBMT, “Not only does [Kayson] have a big sister, [but] he’s [also] got a big hero.”