Living life with a smile on her face

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By Kenny Mitchell

Sarah Worrell is a kind, loving, fun spirited young lady from Redwater. She plays softball, cheers for her hometown team, she is a high school graduate, and she has an infectious smile that lights up any room. She likes spending time with her family, socializing, and camping trips where she rides jet skis and goes swimming.
Sarah also has autism.
Dealing with life on the autism spectrum definitely has its challenges for Sarah and her family, but she has dealt with those challenges head on, with the kind of exuberance and determination that has made her succeed and conquer them one at a time.
Sarah has some wise words for those who are dealing with those same challenges, and for the communities where they live, and as we recognize Autism Awareness Month, we asked Sarah and her family to share with all of us their unique views on what she calls a very structured way of life.
Structure is the key she says, no surprises. Keeping a schedule is very important.
Also she wants all of us “neuro-typical” folks to know that having autism doesn’t make her any different from anybody else. She says, “Treat us with compassion and respect, and you will have a friend forever. But have patience with us. We learn things in a different manner than most, so what may seem obvious to you, may take a little thought for us."
And Sarah says quite emphatically, “ I have Autism- I am not two! Please don’t talk to me like I’m a baby, I understand what you are saying.”
Living life on the autism spectrum has given the Worrell family some knowledge on the subject that they would like to share with the world.
When asked what advice they would give to parents who have just learned their child has autism, the family says getting help early is key, putting in the time to doing research on the subject is important and above all else, give them structure, continuity, reassurance and love.
As far as education, Sarah and her family also tell us some valuable keys to dealing with autism.
They say making school districts realize that helping a student accomplish all that they are capable of should always be more important than a budget and helping parents identify all of the resources available to them to help their child is a key goal.
More importantly, schools, teachers and communities must realize that autism is a spectrum disorder and that placing a child in mainstream classes or Special Ed classes varies from one child to the next.
 Students can range from mild to moderate to severe. Things that come very easily to one student will not be as easy to the next, but then the roles could reverse in other subjects. A student’s success at school highly depends on the level of intervention at home.
For Sarah, the future is bright.
Now a high school graduate, she plans on staying with mom and dad and would like to be active volunteering at local hospitals, delivering flowers to patients.
She also spends a lot of time cheering on little sister Katy and the rest of the Redwater Lady Dragons. She calls little sis Katy her role model, and says, “She may be my younger sister, but I enjoy watching her play ball and excel in everything she does. Her leaving for college will be hard on me, but I know I will get to see her on the weekends. That’s why she didn’t go too far off.”
Finally, when asked what advice she would love to give to the rest of us, she simply said, “Above all else,
we are people…treat EVERYONE with kindness and respect…I may not understand everything you do, but you don’t understand why I do the things that I do either.”


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