Life Opens Up: Smiling the Friendly Skies

Look at those dimples

Ginger is intelligent. She’s funny. She’s the cuddliest teenager in the world. She’s on the Honor Roll. She’s an incredible comic artist. She’s flown an airplane. She also has Asperger’s, a condition that renders its afflicted with “significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.” That’s what Wikipedia says about it.

What do I say?

I say Asperger’s might be part of a person, but it doesn’t define who they are.

While overcoming certain difficulties with the syndrome, such as monotone speaking and difficulty showing facial emotion, crying at the drop of a hat over little things, or being a bit awkward physically, the teenage years come all too quickly, bringing with it the need for social graces, cool and an overall collected package.

That’s where a smile levels the playing field and a genuine grin says it all, especially when a teen working through difficulties can feel a little bit more overwhelmed by the world. Thanks to research of the spectrum, Ginger now knows she’s not “weird”; she’s just wired differently. And thanks to taking care of her teeth, Ginger can shine in more ways than one, through a healthy mouth and a bright smile.

And although she has her own personal challenges to overcome as a female with Asperger’s, it doesn’t keep her from smiling and showing kindness, patience and support to others. Confidence in herself through Venturing Scouting, and taking on leadership roles as a summer camp counselor-in-training have helped her to work with other Scouts, some of whom also are fighting their own autism spectrum struggles. She’s now one of the most popular staff members at Camp Buffalo Bill, whether she’s teaching basket weaving (“No, mom, it’s not underwater.”), helping lead songs, or perfecting an impersonation of a silly girl riding her pet narwhal during their “Lumberjack Dating Game” skits.

Does she sometimes have to work on her social skills? Absolutely. Still cry occasionally? You bet. Needs to practice smiling while talking into the phone? Don’t we all sometimes, especially when solicitors call? While she has bouts of incredible shyness, and the occasional traces of an Aspie’s teen peek through, Ginger has learned that if it’s one thing you do, it’s to smile through your troubles.

Because even when you struggle to make eye contact and you live the daunting life of adolescent uncertainty, a smile is still always the fastest entry into someone else’s heart.

Your mouth is more than just teeth and gums, it’s your most important feature when it comes to expressing yourself and engaging with the world. The Crest & Oral-B Life Opens Up Project will highlight individual stories that showcase how a healthy mouth has played a role in opening up to life and to the world.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Crest & Oral-B via Glam Media.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Crest & Oral-B. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. MemoryKeeper says

    As a teacher to students with special needs, I loved today's post! Thanks for sharing! What a great quote that a "smile levels the playing field," I've got to share that!

  2. What a lovely tribute!

  3. What a lovely tribute!

  4. Melody Ann says

    Thanks for this. It really brightened my morning and helped adjust my perspective!

  5. My 14 son is an Aspy also. I started him in dance classes 3 years ago. Made all the difference in the world.

  6. My son Jake, who is 14, is an Aspy. Bullied at school for years, was diagnoised as clinically depressed. Moved him to a school of "learning differences", started him in dance classes. A differenct boy. Funny, witty, smart. Not always understandable, but we see a future for him.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.