I had the absolute pleasure of talking to a wonderful young lady last night by the name of Ariel Franzone. Ariel’s biological mother was addicted to drugs. Consequently, she was born with the same addiction and multiple medical problems. Ariel has struggled most of her life in school, especially when it comes to reading. Her parents were strong advocates for her and spent most of their time, money, and emotional effort trying to get her classified and the services she needed. Can you relate? One of the things that struck me most when talking to Ariel was her ability to self advocate. I learned some things from both her and her parents that I will share with you below!
Explore Your Heart Out
Ariel didn’t always know what she wanted but that was fine. She tried everything and took every opportunity to discover her passions and strengths. The key for her was the word "opportunity." Ariel looked for doors she could open. She found a her place in girl scouts, sports, and robotics. Yes you heard me right - ROBOTICS! Who would have ever guessed that a child with disabilities who struggled to read and had fine motor issues could excel in robotics? Her parents thought she was insane and discouraged her from trying. That didn’t stop Ariel. She found out who the robotics coach was and gave the information to her parents. She did not give her parents a choice, but resolutely set out to try something new. Could she fail? Absolutely, but that did not stop Ariel. She had the attitude that failing was temporary. If she failed, she would just look for another opportunity if robotics did not work out. Her motivation was to find a place where she belonged and could contribute and grow. She is now doing fantastic and is in competitive robotics at her high school! Her goal is to make robotics more accessible to all children at an early age!
Prepare for HARD work
Ariel knew that whatever she did, it would require more work than other kids would ever have to think about. It never stopped her. This kid had the tenacity of a bulldog. Every door she opened she wanted to earn her spot. She did not have a sense of entitlement. She knew behind every door she opened, she would be greeted with HARD WORK! Her parents gave her a good core value system and wonderful work ethic. They talked to her about her disabilities but spent more time encouraging her strengths. As a result, Ariel learn the fine art of compensating and using her strengths to achieve success. Ariel doesn’t know the word “can’t” she only knows the word “TRY!” She filters through what works and what doesn’t and lets go of what she is not good to find something new. She has no fear of trying. Her greatest fear is what she may miss out on when she doesn't try.
Become a STRONG Self Advocate
Ariel told me a story about when she was in grade school. Due to visual issues, she had a hard time seeing the edges of steps. She sat down and wrote a letter to the principal asking for the edges of the stairs to be a different color so she could see them. The principal obliged, and even though Ariel is in the 11th grade, those steps are still being done on an annual basis. She did not stop there, she is getting her girl scout Gold Award on advocacy. She is a mentor to other children with special needs, and immediately lets her teachers and case manager know when things are not being done in the way she learns best. Her parents have taught her to advocate because they were strong role models in advocating for her and others. Her parents also have learned how to step back so Ariel can step forward more independently to advocate for herself.
On Wednesday - March 1, 2023, I have invited the Franzone family to speak to families and share their story. Ariel will be there too and you don’t want to miss the honor it is to talk to and hear her speak! She will give you a few pointers on how to help your child! Register today at by clicking here!
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