Emily is 12 1/2 years old. She has Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Developmentally Delayed. She is currently in her 7th year with the Shining Starz cheer team, at the cheer gym Cheers & More. She started cheer when she was 6 years old when the Shining Starz were apart of the cheer gym, Oklahoma Twisters.
At first, cheer was a therapy mechanism for Emily. It allowed her to learn more social skills and work towards goals that would normally be a difficult. Even though she enjoyed cheer right from the start, she didn’t smile much or have that eye to eye contact. Today, she is totally the opposite of that child 6 years ago. She engages with the audience and smiles ear to ear, and lights up on the cheer mat during competitions. Even though practices may be tough at times, and her attention span can be short, she rocks that mat when the music comes on. For Emily, cheer has not only helped her overcome obstacles but has also allowed her to make some great lifelong friendships and the sport of cheerleading.