Sarah Elizabeth Lehmann is a gregarious, vibrant 18 year old young lady with the determination to face challenges head on. Diagnosed with global developmental delay at less than a year, followed by an updated diagnosis of Apraxia and Autistic Spectrum Disorder by her third birthday, she continues to defy the odds of what many experts said she would not do. Sarah has taught her parents the meaning of the phrase: “Never say never” as they have witnessed, if Sarah wants to accomplish something badly enough, she will not give up until she does it.

Therapies and interventions have always been an ever present support in her life, and she always seems to manage to delight and inspire all professionals that have worked with her. From an early age Sarah had worked hard to overcome her challenges. She started doing early intervention ABA therapy at Including Kids and was then able to transition to a typical classroom. She rises to every expectation you give her. In particular, it was suggested that Equine (horse) therapeutic riding would be beneficial to her gross motor and sensory development. At first, Sarah was so intimidated by horses, she could barely look at them, much less actually get on a saddle. Yet, she would not give up. With the assistance of a persistent, creative staff, and Sarah willing to take baby steps and rewards of Sonic slushes after sessions, she did eventually get on the horse and found a place of refuge and calm. Today she continues to ride and improve her horsemanship skills, participating in Top Hands events with the Houston Rodeo and Texas Special Olympics. She even enjoys fundraising every year for the fantastic non-profit, SIRE, that has helped her and so many others.

Sarah also loves music and takes piano lessons despite her fine motor skills that are challenged. While it may take a long time to learn a piece of music, she is content to keep on trying until she can master the song assigned to her. Her love of music carries over to enjoyment as well, as she is an aficionado in song lyrics from many genres and decades. She has a special affinity for 80’s music. She is the life of the party at parties and pep rallies alike, never content to sit on the sidelines but encouraging everyone to get up and dance and trying her best to yell the loudest at pep rallies despite her articulation and speaking challenges. While in junior high, she had a repeated presence on the yell team, earning the title of “Most School Spirit” two years in a row.

Sarah currently attends the young adult program, Center for Community Inclusion, of Including Kids located in northeast Houston. She works on skills that will help her be as independent as possible in her living, work life and social life. Community involvement is also an important aspect of Sarah’s life. She often participates in service projects with her classmates at CCI, including volunteer work at Mission Northeast, HAAM, and more. She also is working hard at internships at HEB, and Walgreens, and previously at Lifetime Fitness, with a goal of paid employment. Her dream job is to work at KSBJ Christian radio! She is also active with her youth group at church.
When it comes to her dreams, future aspirations, and hard tasks before her, she has always lived by this philosophy that she often says to her family and friends alike—“The best you can do is try. Try and do not give up.”