Meghan McCarty, 9, was her mom's hero long before she won the Dogwood Elementary School Spelling Bee last week. Born premature, Meghan has mild cerebral palsy and autism. "When we were given each diagnosis, I had no idea what to expect," says her mom, Tiffiany. "It has been a long road to where we are, but she amazes me each and every day. She has such perseverance and determination—read, stubborn!—for a young girl. Each time they say she can't, won't or never, she usually does."
Last year, Meghan won the spelling bee for third graders and placed third in the one for her school, located in Knoxville, Tennessee. She's also won honor-roll awards.
The sign Meghan had her mom make for the spelling bee
"Nine is her favorite number—it's just luck that it came her way!" says Tiffiany.
Spelling out the winning word
I asked Tiffiany if I could send her questions to run by Meghan. Instead, Meghan decided to type all the answers herself! Of course, there wasn't a single typo.
So, Meghan, how did you learn to be such a great speller?
"I learned words when I was two. I like to read."
What were you thinking during the spelling bee?
"'I'm happy be here' and 'I can spell these words.'"
Where did you put the trophy you won?
"Right now it's on the dining room table. I will probably put it in my bedroom with my other awards."
How are you going to get ready for the regional spelling bee in March?
"I'm doing the word club online. I practice words in the car with Mommy. I look at the dictionary."
What are your favorite books right now?
"I like to read Nancy Drew books lately and the Missing Book by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Cam Jansen. I also like to read magazines with drug ads. I also read about different drugs on my iPad."
What do you like to do for fun?
"I like going shopping and going to the library. I like to go to Dollywood. I like reading."
Why do you think kids with cerebral palsy and autism rock?
"Cause we are special and can do anything, just a little different. My autism gives me super powers like hyperlexia and makes me smart. Also you can wear call DAFOs braces with butterflies. You go to therapy and and get occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy and the therapists are nice."
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
"Always do your best and try and we are Americans not Americants!
My favorite singers are Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
I like to tell jokes. What did the lion say after eating the clown? 'That tasted funny.' HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"