Ashlyn has a job.
She is now manager of the girls varsity soccer team at her high school.
Ashlyn loves soccer and is the star of her team, her Special Olympics team.
When she first told me she wanted to be manager I was leery.
She would be at school, after school hours, without support staff or an autism classroom or anyone who could do all of the things we do to make life manageable for her.
What if she has a melt down? What if it is too overwhelming? What if the coaches don’t give her enough guidance?
But I had to let her do it. Autism or not, she is a teenager and gaining independence is part of growing up, for both of us.
So last week, after her first practice, she came to the car a bit disheveled, talking loudly, barely keeping it together before the car door shut.
Shoot, shoot, shoot, I knew we shouldn’t have done this. It was too much, too many people, too loud, too everything.
She said it went fine but I wondered if somewhere in her mind she was unsure as to why she was the helper and not the player.
When the next day of practice came she wanted to go back so I let her, not wanting to communicate the thoughts rolling around in my head and put something in her mind that might not already be there.
Day Two: She came out happy and a little overwhelmed but no more so than a typical school day, stated that she had a friend and the girls were nice.
Can we do this? Can she do this? She has a friend.
Day Three: Happy again and full of information about her jobs and her coaches and her friends.
We are doing it.
Which leads me to day four. Day four she was not supposed to go. Day four is her day off because this level of activity and noise and people is always too much and limits are good.
But she packed her bag for practice and told me to pick her up from school because she was going again today.
“I am important to them, Mom.”
“They need me.”
And I got it. Ashlyn has been “helped” her whole life. Now it is her turn.
Just like the millions of other children with autism, she has amazing talents but has had to spend so much time working to be like the rest of the world, that those talents have often been overlooked and “helper” is not her role often played.
But now it is.
Three days a week she is needed by two coaches and a big group of teenage girls. Give her a week and she will know their names, their numbers, every goal they have scored and the game and bus schedule.
She is amazing and invaluable and needed, so very needed.
More than she will ever, ever know.
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Good job Ashlyn!! You make me proud to be one of your teachers.. . .miss you!!!
Awesome!! Ashlyn you are an inspiration to all who come in contact with you!
Thank you so much, I will tell her you said that.
Leigh McFarland Sarf says
Love her and love this story! Ashlyn is a pretty amazing young woman!
Rob Sawyer says
i am so proud of Ashlyn and not suprised, she was the star with AYSO VIP and her energy radiated to the field and players, now to give to others…. no suprise there 🙂
Wow. What a wonderful posting. You have no idea how inspiring this was to read. Especially today. Today was one of those days when everything Big T did, or attempted to do, seemed like he had backtracked. I need to be reminded, quite frequently, that we, too, will get there. Thanks for the reminder today!
I'm so glad this inspired you Kelly. When I was in your shoes I never thought we would be an inspiration one day. Hang in there, things get different and better.
This gave me chills! How great for her! And how inspirational to families facing this same sort of thing!
It's wonderful that your daughter is feeling included and needed. Good for her stepping outside of her comfort zone and taking on a new, challenging position. You must be so proud.
Let me just wipe my tears first. This is so good! And prefect timing. I just went to a workshop on helping our ASD kids make and keep friends and even though I left with helpful info it was a real, real downer of a session. I was convinced my son will never have friends and be bullied. Unless I put him in a friend making therapy group that meets for 5 hours everyday. This is exactly what I needed to hear today! Thank you.
And go Ashlyn! That is amazing! She is taking such steps towards being an independent young woman!
That's awesome. This is so inspiring to me, especially looking ahead to those teenage years. Great job, Ashlyn! And great job, Mom!
Goosebumps!! Lots and lots of them. That's awesome!!
Congrats Ashlyn! What an awesome, inspiring post to start my day! 🙂
Go Ashlyn, such great news and fantastic that she is loving it 🙂 Jen
I am so, so thrilled that she has this opportunity. You did an amazing thing – no surprise there
Way to go Ashlyn…..you are an amazing person….and you have a great mom.
Beautiful post about a beautiful mother/daughter team. I love the ever courageous, meet every challenge Ashlyn!
Finding MyNew Normal says
Amazing story. I'm so glad she's happy and finding friends and being a manager.
Sarah Halstead says
I love this! So happy for her!
That's just awesome. And to think, this all started with you as a soccer coach!
Thank you for your comment 🙂 We don't have a date set yet but hopefully at the end of the year!
That's so wonderful!! 🙂
Congratulations – to both of you.