My story: female rally champ inspires my little girl
Molly Taylor recently became the first female winner of the Australian Rally Championship.
In the process, she made an extraordinary impact on Ella Bibby, a girl on the autism spectrum.
Ella’s mum, Jade, shares the story:
“It was February 15, 2016, and we were sitting in the paediatrician’s office with our beautiful, five-year-old daughter Ella.
We were listening as the doctor advised us that Ella had been diagnosed with Autism.
Strangely enough, hearing the words “Autism Spectrum Disorder”, actually left us relieved.
We had been on the journey of diagnosis for about six months and everything finally made sense.
This was not a behavioural problem that needed to be “fixed”; our little girl’s brain is just hardwired a little differently and the diagnosis was the key to getting the help we needed so she could thrive.
After leaving the paediatrician’s office, we promptly called Amaze to activate Ella’s FaHCSIA funding and to start our learning journey.
The staff at Amaze are wonderful: they answered the plethora of questions we had and helped provide us with resources and tip sheets to educate both us and our extended family about Autism.
Together we explored the different support options so we could make an informed decision about what was now most beneficial for Ella.
Uncovering Ella’s passion
Every week, we took Ella to see her psychologist and occupational therapist, who helped us to understand her better and helped Ella to understand herself better, too.
With this greater knowledge and insight, we were able to uncover Ella’s passion.
To most people, Ella appeared to have very similar interests to other five-year-old girls.
If you asked her what she wanted for her birthday or Christmas, she would usually answer, “a Barbie Doll”.
This always baffled us because she had a drawer full of Barbies at home that she never touched.
Through Ella’s sessions with her psychologist we discovered that she wasn’t interested in Barbies at all.
She was, however, smart enough to know that most little girls want a Barbie, so that’s the answer she would give.
In fact, what Ella really would have loved was a remote control car or a hot wheels track. Revelation: Ella loves car racing!
Although she was fascinated with cars and car racing, at the age of five Ella had already realised that this was not an interest that most little girls have.
Some girls like Barbie dolls, others like cars
We weren’t going to let this stop her from enjoying what she loved, so we set out to show her that plenty of girls liked cars.
This is when we found a clip on YouTube of rally driver Molly Taylor.
Ella watched that clip over and over (and over) and there began her love for rally driving and Molly Taylor.
Ella kept up to date on where Molly was competing and was always asking when she would get to see her.
Determined to support her passion, for her birthday we decided to take her to Canberra to see Molly in action.
Not only did she get to see Molly drive, she was able to meet her in person.
This, however, was where the wheels fell off our plan. Ella was filled with excitement, yet crippled by anxiety.
Regardless, Molly was warm and welcoming and tried so hard to help Ella feel comfortable.
Over the course of the weekend in Canberra, Ella’s anxiety lessened and, although not able to bring herself to actually speak to Molly, she was able to get a few photos with her idol and even had the chance to sit in her car.
Molly is a brilliant role model
It cemented Ella’s love of rallying and she was determined to see more of it.
Although we hadn’t really budgeted for several interstate trips in one year, when Molly gave so much of her time and was so kind and patient with Ella (you really should follow Molly because she’s a brilliant role model), we decided this interest was one worth nurturing.
So we took Ella to see Molly again in South Australia and at Coffs Harbour, where Molly took out the Australian Rally Championship title.
Each trip presented the same challenges though: Ella was so excited about going to see Molly, but overwhelmed with anxiety about the possibility of actually seeing her in person.
When the fear and angst hit, it was difficult for us all. We doubted ourselves for taking her, and there were teary phone calls home with a screaming little girl in the background. We’d question our decisions and the money we spent.
But then it would come time to see Molly race.
Ella would drag us out of our hotel room, absolutely determined not to miss her idol.
It was then that we could see the sheer joy this sport brought our little girl.
She would be jumping up and down with excitement as soon as Molly came screaming around the corner.
Ella once said, “I hope Molly knows that I’m yelling ‘Go Molly’ even if the words don’t come out when I see her”.
Although our hearts broke for her, this made us even more determined to support her and to help her overcome her anxiety.
Hopefully, one day, Ella will be comfortable enough to walk up and have a conversation with Molly.
In the meantime, we are thrilled to have found our little girl’s passion – something that puts a real sparkle in her eyes – and discovered her idol has turned out to be so warm, compassionate and inspiring“.