For Ellie Jarrett, 8th grader at Huston Middle School, playing hockey is life. She’s been on the ice since she was two years old and suited up for her first game around five years old.
“I started playing because I was inspired by my dad to try it and it is something that we both like to do,” said Ellie. “My dad and my brother and I enjoy playing hockey together.”
While she glides up and down the ice like a pro, the journey has been anything but easy for Ellie. She has had to work hard to get where she is at because of her diagnoses of sensory processing disorder, general anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder with OCD tendencies, and ADHD.
In particular, sensory processing disorder causes extreme sensitivity to noises, temperature changes, and touch. She was diagnosed when she was just four years old.
“This explained many of her ‘quirks’ like screaming in pain if we went from a cold air-conditioned room to a hot playground, or why she would only wear one kind of shoes,” said Megan Jarrett, Ellie’s mom.
That’s why her involvement in hockey is such a surprise.
“Considering that it is hard for her to maintain her balance, it's impressive that she can skate at all, and she makes it look easy,” said Jarrett.
And now, the hockey world has taken note. Ellie was recently featured in the March 2021 issue of USA Hockey, the premier publication for youth hockey in the country.
“It gives us so much pride to have a Huston Middle School student featured for her courageous spirit,” said Dr. Autumn Turk, Assistant Principal at Huston Middle School. “Our hope is that others will read Ellie's story and be inspired to bring their very best to every situation life throws their way.”
“It feels amazing to have this opportunity,” said Ellie. “It helps me to recognize how far I have really come.”
Ellie has never let her special needs stop her, both on the ice and in the classroom. She maintains high grades in her regular and advanced classes and self-advocates for her needs with her teachers and peers.
“So many people think that having a mental health diagnosis — or in our case, a bunch of them — is a life sentence,” said Mrs. Jarrett. “Ellie isn't going to lose her autism or outgrow her ADHD but she will have opportunities just like every other person. It's all about what you do with them!”