A family’s love and caring for a man with microcephaly
Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2017
Payton Frierson, 22, is well known in the community; with a friendly smile, and a gentle nature, the stories of his antics have become popular on Facebook.
His mother, Pam, said Payton was born with microcephaly, which results in the brain developing smaller than normal.
But that hasn’t stopped him from catching the hearts of Pearl River County residents or from aspiring to join the police force.
Since he was 3-years-old he’s had an obsession with various things in life. At first it was anything with stars and stripes, then it was stop signs and stoplights. Finally he became obsessed with police officers at age 5, an obsession that has endured ever since.
Payton was diagnosed with microcephaly early on, and doctors told the family he may not live to be an adult. At six weeks of age, doctors feared he would only have the use of his brain stem, fearing the other parts of the organ had not developed. But later their fears were allayed, but his brain was still smaller than it should be. Pam said his IQ is about 44, but socially he excels. At age 3 his parents taught him how to communicate using sign language because he couldn’t speak. Today, he speaks with confidence.
Pam, a retired educator from the Pearl River Central School District, helped make her son famous locally by sharing stories of his adventures with the students and staff. When he became old enough to attend classes, he spent a lot of time in her classroom. And when social media became popular, a new outlet for her stories brought Payton’s stories to a wider audience.
Today, Payton still has plans to become a police officer. In her attempts to dissuade him from a goal he won’t be able to attain, Pam said she’s informed him of the numerous requirements in joining the force.
Aside from saying he’s not old enough to get a driver’s license, or join the academy, Pam told Payton that one of the requirements to become a police officer is to be sprayed with pepper spray.
“How do you convince a young adult with this disability he can’t be a police officer?” Pam said.
But, Payton found a way to pass that test without actually going to the academy.
Earlier this month, Pam shared a Facebook post about how he managed to pass the test. According to the post dated May 8, Payton used a prepaid debit card to order some packages from an online retailer a few weeks prior. On May 8, his sister and caregiver, Lindsey Fricke, opened the boxes to search for information in order to return the items. Inside the packages she found a number of items, one of which was pepper spray. As Fricke was searching his online account to contact the seller, somehow Payton took possession of the pepper spray, made his way to the bathroom and tested the self-defense product on himself.
“If he gets away from me, there’s damage to be done,” Pam said.
It wasn’t until he came back into the room and said, “I did it, I sprayed myself,” that the family became aware of what he’d done.
Once the shock wore off, they brought him into the bathroom to wash out his eyes. He would later wear the red marks under his eyes with pride.
Since he sprayed the product in the home, it filled with the fumes and everyone in the household soon became affected. Fricke said Payton wasn’t even bothered by the pain, he was just proud he passed the pepper spray test.
But that was not his first attempt at being a law enforcement officer. Pam said there’s been times when he’s pulled vehicles over in the community in an effort to issue tickets using a side-by-side with a blue light mounted on the front bumper.
After posting the story of Payton pepper spraying himself, Pam said she was contacted by Det. Christa Groom at the Picayune Police Department, asking to see Payton. When the family arrived, the department presented him with an honorary certificate for the “voluntary completion of the requirements for O.C. spray” along with some other goodies.
Pam said her stories about Payton’s adventures continue to gain popularity on social media.