Abigael began life as a 3.2 pound premature baby who would be later diagnosed with Asperger’s, but she didn’t let that get in her way.

Abigael attends Hefner Middle School. Just recently during a special assembly, Abby won the Hefner Middle School Special Recognition for the Rising Star Award. The inscription on the certificate was: You make Hefner Middle School a better and stronger school! We are so proud you are one of our students.

The teachers then shared stories of Abby helping younger classmates in need. When students feel overwhelmed and have dropped items in the crowded halls, instead of pushing by with everyone else, Abby stops and helps them get their things together. When other students are being bullied, Abigael comes alongside them and reinforces their sense of worth with words of encouragement. She starts each morning in the cafeteria offering to help the lunch ladies with meals, “ because they do so much and people barely acknowledge them except to complain about the food.” She draws pictures and gives thank you cards stuffed with her personal lunch candy to the janitors because “ they give so much of their time to make sure the school is clean for us”. When her teacher’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, Abby drew her cards and met with her after class to ask if she could pray for her.

She remembers her teachers birthdays and puts together candy bags to celebrate them. When teachers and counselors are dealing with difficult things and other difficult students, Abby will write them notes detailing how they have personally touched her and how they have been advocate’s for her and pushed her forward. When other students who do not understand Abby make fun of her and ridicule her in front of everyone, she does not engage back. One teacher told me, “ Abigael lets the hard stuff rolls off her back. When asked about some of the unkind words from her peers, she simply smiles and says, “ You never know what someone is going through at home. It is easy to forgive when you understand that sometimes, meanness is a result of hard stuff at home that we just can’t put into words.” Even on days when she is overwhelmed, over stimulated, she informs those around her that “ She is done peopling” for the moment and she will get back to them shortly.

Hefner recognized her as a leader and an example of what it means to extend kindness and social conscience to her peers and her teachers. Through her love and acceptance of those around her, Abigael educates others about the Spectrum and advocates for herself as well.