Yukon Teen Overcoming Struggles with Autism Through Online Schooling, Hockey

Originally aired on KFOR-TV – August 27, 2018

YUKON, Okla. – A Yukon teen is beating the odds in more than one way. The 18-year-old with Autism is excelling in online school and on the ice – as she’s the only girl on her hockey team.

As it turns out, a not-so-traditional approach made all the difference in the world.

Watching her on the ice or hard at work on schoolwork, you’d never know DeeAnna Phillips was on the Autism spectrum.

“None of my friends even realized I was until they said something about it,” Phillips said.

Though not obvious at first glance, it led to problems for her at school.

“Couldn’t cross my mid line, so I’d stand up and turn the page and it was very disruptive in school,” she said. “I always felt embarrassed that I wasn’t normal.”

The struggles in the classroom eventually led her mom to realize her daughter needed a change.

Her freshman year of high school, Phillips enrolled with the Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy – a K-12 online public school.

The move to online classes didn’t just help Phillips’ academics. It helped the former figure skater have more time to chase one of her dreams.

“I wanted to do hockey, but I was nervous because I’d be the only girl,” she said. “But, now, I don’t care.”

Phillips plays at the Arctic Edge in Edmond with her brother and other boys in the Oklahoma City Youth Hockey league.

While scoring goals on the ice – she’s also making advances in her own personal struggles.

“It’s taught me to sit still and pay attention because I need to make sure I’m getting on the ice when I need to and getting off; it’s really helped with that,” she said.

All the while – crushing stereotypes.

“A lot of the boys have gotten used to me being the girly girl off the ice and being mean to them while I’m on the ice,” she said.

The teen is also sending a message of hope.

“It only matters what you and your family think, your best friends, the people who really care about you aren’t going to care,” she said.

Phillips hopes to one day become a nutritionist for a hockey team.

To learn more about Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, visit https://ovca.k12.com/.

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