Updated: Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013, 5:55 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013, 5:15 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Roller derby is the ultimate study in teamwork, physicality and cooperation. But for Naptown junior roller girl Isabella Dutra e Mello, known at the track as Lucky Harm, she has a challenge that normally makes all those things tough: Asperger’s.
“It’s a lot harder for us to be social and get social cues,” said Dutra e Mello. “If someone’s having a bad day, I used to not notice it when they’d want me to notice it.”
“They usually think that being in a large group would make her uncomfortable, and that’s true at one point in her life,” added her mother, Amira, also a derby girl for Naptown. “But through roller derby, she’s made tremendous progress.”
Roller derby has become a part of therapy for Isabella, with all those lessons on teamwork and camaraderie empowering her.
“It makes me feel calmer, and it’ll be ok if I mess up,” said Dutra e Mello on how roller derby has helped her with Asperger’s.
“I think it’s hard for some people to even see traces of Asperger’s in her until they spend a lot more time with her,” added her mother Amira. “With Roller derby, the past two years, she has made huge strides in that.”
Isabella would like to be a psychologist when she grows up to help other young people overcome the same challenges she has.
“I never want to use it [Asperger’s] as an excuse,” said Dutra e Mello. “I know I want to help kids and strengthen them and not have them use their disorders as an excuse.”