Ashley and buddies at the beachIs this cool, or what!

(This story begins when I'm in 7th grade, and continues through my 21st birthday. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted about my life as I live it...Ashley)
Hello! I'm happy that you stopped by to visit. My name is Ashley, and I have cerebral palsy. That's a problem that you can't catch, but one that makes it extra hard for me to do things that are really easy for you. Like drinking from a cup, or speaking so that people can understand me.

I've been the only wheelchair user in my school since preschool, and now I'm in the 7th grade! I can't walk because I was born too early, so instead of my legs, I use the wheelchair to get me where I want to go. Sometimes I get speeding tickets for going too fast!! I've got to tell you that it really drives me nuts when kids fool with the joystick on my chair. If you know someone who has a wheelchair, I hope that you'll ask if it's OK before you investigate it.

I've had to miss a lot of school because of operations. Just last year I had an really long operation, a spinal fusion, and I missed three months of school. Luckily, I love to spend time on the computer, so I had plenty to do. I also love to enter contests, and have even won quite a few of them! 

Last year one of my teachers kept hurting my feelings. She would tell the kids who were goofing off and acting rough on the chairs, that if they weren't careful, they would end up in wheelchairs, and their lives would be ruined. That really stunk. And this was my health teacher!! Also, when we were in health we were talking about rabid animals, and the teacher said they drool, one of the boys, a real jerk, said, "oh, Ashley must be rabid, because she drools." This really hurt my feelings, and embarrassed me. Can you believe that he would say something so mean? I don't drool that much, and believe me, I can't help it!

 I have a lot of friends in school, and I am very involved in my church, my youth group, and girl scouts. I was even on student council in 5th grade. You can see that I'm really busy, and that I try not to let my medical problems get in the way! I just wish kids would invite me over to hang out. I understand that their homes aren't wheelchair accessible, but I could hang out on a nice day outside. Luckily, I have a few friends who do invite me over. And boys? Well, I wish that they'd ask me out on a date! 

I enjoy listening to cds and the radio. My mom keeps me active, I must say. I have done adaptive skiing, horseback riding, ice skating, wave running, boating, fishing, sledding, and roller coasters. I feel lucky that I have parents who are into helping me do most everything that anyone else can do. 

I am a sports nut, I LOVE hockey, the Boston Bruins are my favorite!!!! When I grow up, I want to be a sports journalist. Then I would get to enjoy my sports, and have a good paying job!! I am also hoping to be a disabled model. My little brother is a model in Boston, and I would love to do it too. Wish me luck! 

Update time-- I am 17 now...has the time ever flown by!  I go to a school with other kids who are physically disabled, and my new school has a sports/rec program that is open to absolutely is great.  I can now play wheelchair soccer, football, hockey, or just about anything else.  So much fun.  

Guess what...I went to a prom at my school last year, and was  that ever the best.  I invited a friend of mine from camp, and we had a blast.  This year I am in the school play...and on student council.  As you can see, there are many activities to participate in at my new school.  This is my second year there, and I have made some great friends.  They come over and hang out sometimes, and call me on the phone a lot.  I have gotten a few chances to audition in Boston for some commercials from my brother's modeling agent, but haven't had any luck yet.  Even so, it is exciting.

August, 2005

Almost September, and have I ever grown up. Believe it or not,  I am now 21 (celebrated my birthday a week ago). I am in my last year of training at Mass. Hospital School.  I have started a job at the school where I take orders for lunch and snacks, and I deliver them throughout the school. Pay, plus tips, plus I enjoy the work (and the socialization that goes along with it) doesn't get much better!  I still live at home with my mom, and I am in the process this year of looking for an apartment, hopefully with a roommate.  I have a nice boyfriend, Ryan, who also uses a wheelchair.  I have started using a transportation system known as "The Ride", for disabled people in Massachusetts.  I call them and schedule a pick up and drop off. The service is reasonably priced and it gives me much more freedom than I otherwise would have.

Thanks for checking in on me, my friends!


Ashley at the beach

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: August 30, 2005