Separation Anxiety

In our ongoing “spring cleaning” (which never seems to end) I came upon a large spiral notebook filled with notes from the dozen or so ABA therapists who came to our home beginning in November, 2004 through August, 2005.  Emma was just two years old when all of this began.  It’s a fascinating document of that time period and it depresses me to no end.  Over and over the notations remark upon Emma’s “clingy-ness to Mom”, her “whimpering” and “despondency” when I would leave the room and her internal discomfort.

It is impossible for me to read the notes and not see an obvious pattern.  For a therapy that prides itself in collecting data, it is curious that this larger and, what seemed to me anyway, obvious pattern was largely ignored or, perhaps it is what naturally happens when we pathologize a neurology.  Emma’s desire to seek comfort and assurance from me, her mom, was seen as a negative, something to be trained away, something that was getting in the way of more important things.  It is ironic that this was being said about a young child who was diagnosed with autism, which has, according to all those experts, as one of its most defining characteristics, “social impairment” and an inability to form close bonds.

A two-year old not wanting to go off with a stranger is considered a “good” thing by most people.  That this same child would prefer being with their mother, even after getting to know someone else, would still, in most instances, be thought of as an excellent example of bonding and having a close relationship with one of the most important people in that person’s life – their mother.  After all, if you cannot trust your mother to protect you, to be there for you when you are two, how will you learn to trust anyone later in life?

Richard and I talk about “what we would have done” all the time.  Not as in – what would we have done if we could do it all over again – as much as, what would we do now if we had a two-year old today who was just like Emma.  And the first thing, the absolute first thing would have been PRESUME COMPETENCE.  That is the key, the foundation by which everything else would have been gauged.  This does not mean expecting a two-year old to understand, know and behave as a twenty year old.  It means we would have presumed she understood and felt what a two-year old is capable of understanding and feeling not less.

When Emma began her ABA based preschool in the fall of 2005, I was told to drop her off and immediately leave.  Yet when my non autistic son went to preschool they had a three-week “transition period’ in place where parents routinely stayed with their child, slowly reducing the time they stayed until eventually the child separated from their parent when they felt comfortable to do so.  Each child was different.  Some children ran off within the first few days, others needed more time, some needed several weeks, but no one said, “Leave now, even though your child is hysterically crying and clinging to your leg, it will be good for them.”  I remember asking about this at Emma’s preschool and being told they didn’t allow parents to stay with their child as this only prolonged the child’s suffering.  How is it that one method is good for one child, but not another?

Knowing how sensitive my daughter is and was, knowing how intensely painful this must have been for her, I can only sit here, filled with sadness that we just didn’t know better.  It was as though, when we got her diagnosis, all common sense left us.

So I am asking all my Autistic friends – What would have helped you when you were a small child?  Would it have been helpful to have your parent stay with you until you were comfortable and felt safe enough to go off on your own?  Would you have liked knowing your parent was there, even if you didn’t need to be right next to them?  What do you advise parents new to all of this?

OT session ~ 2005

OT session ~ 2005

“How Did You Learn To Read?”

A few days ago someone asked Emma, “How did you learn to read and spell?”  Last night, in response to this question Emma wrote, “I learned by watching the words my mom read to me.”  She went on to write, “I was able to read many years ago and could write, but didn’t have any way to show it.”

I asked, “Were you able to read as a very little girl?”

Emma wrote, “Yes.”

“As a toddler?”

“Yes,” Emma wrote again.

What is interesting about this is that for years, when Emma was very young, I assumed she didn’t like being read to because when I tried she would grab the book, insist on flipping the pages faster than I could read them, and generally seemed (to me) uninterested.  But from what she wrote last night, it suggests I was incorrect about these early assumptions or at least was partly incorrect.  I am no longer shocked by all that I didn’t understand.  It no longer surprises me to find out, even now, how wrong I was and continue to be about so much when it comes to my daughter.

Because Emma did not sit quietly while I read to her, I thought she didn’t like being read to.  Because Emma preferred holding the book and would turn the page before I had time to finish reading the words I assumed she wasn’t interested in the story.  Because Emma protested if I tried to take the book from her to continue reading, I assumed she wanted to be left alone.  Because Emma seemed distracted while I read, I believed she didn’t like the story, didn’t care for the book, didn’t like books in general.

How would I have viewed her various therapies, preschool, and later grade school, had we understood that she already knew how to read at such a young age?  Our decisions on how to proceed, our opinions regarding what others told us, so matter-of-fact, so sure of themselves… who knew how wrong they all were?   How wrong we were?

People say things like – parents know their child better than anyone.  In our case no one knew our child better than anyone.  We didn’t.  All those therapists who worked with Emma didn’t.  All her teachers, everyone who came in contact with her, not a single person during those early years ever said, “I’m guessing she already knows how to read” or “maybe she already knows, but we haven’t found a way to help her show us all she knows.”  Emma’s need to move, her inability to consistently say out loud what she intends, her deep need for sensory input, her attempts to regulate herself, none of that was understood by anyone, including us.

Had we not begun to find ways for Emma to communicate through the written word, had we insisted on her “speaking,” we would continue to be in the dark. All the things emphasized in  school for a child like Emma who is physically capable of articulating words made us believe spoken language was what we needed to concentrate on.  What we are seeing is that the less we focus on her speaking and the more we focus on her writing, the more she is speaking.

“Hey Em, do you want to put the smaller string in your backpack, just so you have it?” I asked as we headed down to meet her school bus this morning.

“N” “O” Emma said, as she bounded toward the elevator.

A self portrait in the making

A self portrait in the making

“Social Impairment”

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments” ~ NIH (National Institute of Neurological Disorders)

When I first learned about autism, as defined by many organizations, I understood it to be a “disorder,” with “social impairments” being one of its defining characteristics.  As autism was also spoken of as meaning someone who did not and could not understand others, and that the very word “autism” stemming from the Greek word “autos” or “self”, suggested a person who had little interest in other people, I assumed this meant my child didn’t care about or want to make friends.

Add to this the unfortunate wording of what so many of our kids engage in – “self stimulation” – which to my ears anyway sounded vaguely  masturbatory, and as we live in a society tending toward the puritanical, self stimulation, even to my liberal notions, carried with it a decidedly negative connotation.  The word “stimming” is a bit better, but even so, I cannot get away from the sense that this feeds into those negative assumptions about intent and a lack of interest in connecting with others, which is still believed by a great many.

When my daughter described stimming as “self-care” (you can read that post ‘here‘) I  was filled with admiration.  Self care is such a wonderful way to describe what I see her doing.  Self care is not about rejecting others, but instead describes a way of regulating oneself so that one can engage with others.  This idea that autism means disinterest in other people, an idea so many have embraced, does not describe my daughter at all.  To the contrary, my daughter and so many of my friends who share her neurology care deeply and take tremendous pleasure in their various relationships, just as those who are not autistic do.  (That this last sentence is even necessary to write, demonstrates how far we have to go.)

This idea that autism characterized by “social impairments” is something that drives me crazy.  It isn’t a social impairment.  It’s a complete misrepresentation and misunderstanding of what autism means to those whose neurology is called autistic.  My daughter does not lack a desire for friendship or have a disinterest in other people.   Unable to often communicate what she intends, constantly distracted by things others cannot and do not necessarily see, hear or feel and a need to move her body in ways others misinterpret, it is no wonder “friendships” present a whole series of issues for her.

So many of the assumptions about autism, based on what non autistic people witness and believe they are seeing and the theories they then develop supporting these assumptions continues.  Assumptions, spoken of as though fact, with therapies devised to “help” what is assumed to be true and yet, is not, is based on a false premise.   But when we were given Emma’s diagnosis, I did not question these various theories.  I, as did so many others, took them at face value, believing that though there was much we still did not know about autism, these beliefs at least, were some of the things we DID know about autism and by extension autistic people.

Oh how wrong I was…

Emma holding Teddy

Emma holding Teddy With her String

When the Body Does not Obey the Mind

Emma gave me permission to quote her words, written this past Sunday.

“Please remember that my mind tells my body and my mouth to do all sorts of wonderful things constantly, but they don’t obey.

“Sometimes I want to scream.  I am trying so hard, but no one notices and they are annoyed instead of understanding.”

Emma wrote this in response to her gymnastics teacher, but it applies to so many instances where she confounds those around her by doing things she knows she shouldn’t, things she doesn’t want to do, doesn’t intend to do and yet does anyway.  Typically people assume she is doing these things because she doesn’t care, or is trying to be mischievous, or “wants attention” or any number of assumptions people make when witnessing her actions.  But in speaking with Emma, it is clear how incorrect these assumptions are.  As Emma wrote, “I am trying so hard, but no one notices and they are annoyed instead of understanding.”

Sydney Edmond is an Autistic young woman who describes herself as “… locked inside a body that won’t cooperate.”  Sydney published a book of poems, The Purple Tree and Other Poems.  Recently Sydney gave a lecture to a group of Special Education students and educators at a high school.  She generously gave me permission to reprint some of her lecture here.

“People need to know, because Society apparently thinks autistic people are lacking intelligence. Our wandering wayward eyes and hands flapping, screaming, and anxious stimming don’t help, either. But in truth, we polish our souls deep down inside where they can’t see us, while our dastardly bodies act in ways we can’t control. That’s right. I told you I have lousy control over my behavior. Can you relate? Perhaps you have moments when your body does things without your permission? When you lose control and shout at someone or hit out? Well imagine what it would be like if you were just the opposite, and were always out of control with little solid gold moments when all the pieces come together and knowledge passes impulse? For those moments we are the captain of our ship and we feel unbelievably perfect. But, passing time wipes it away. Possibility becomes disability again. Look at your fellow students with autism deeply and with patience. We are in here.  And we are exhausted, panicked, and lonely.”

Ido Kedar, who wrote the book Ido in Autismland writes about the body/mind disconnect he experiences, as well as the embarrassment he then feels when his body does not do as he wishes.

“I feel it’s time autistic people finally say what it’s like to be drilled in flashcards over and over when your hands don’t move to your thoughts, or to have your teacher say in front of you that you can’t count because your stupid hands refuse the right number you’ve counted in your head.  I remember standing miserable and embarrassed, holding the wrong number of straws and hearing my teacher say, “It’s clear he has no number sense,” as if I couldn’t understand or had no emotions either.  When I think of these frustrating experiences I am grateful I am not in that situation anymore.  But many of my friends still are.  That’s why I cry for them.”

Sydney Edmond, from her recent lecture, wrote:

“I found freedom and wonderful joy when, as a ten year old, I was taught how to point to letters on a Letterboard and spell what I wanted to say. I eagerly worked, and within a few months, I was able to communicate. In the beginning, I needed a lot of support. I couldn’t even point my finger when I wanted to. My body, as usual, did not cooperate. I had to force it to, so all my words, stored away for ten years, could finally come out into the world. Do you want to know what I asked for? Well, I asked to have my own pizza. And then I asked to learn ballet. And piano. And I asked to learn about history. I was thirsty to learn. I finally had a way to ask questions that let people know I was intelligent. Soon I learned how to type on a keyboard and have a lovely voice added to my words. I went back to school to prove I was intelligent. I had been tested and told again and again I had the intelligence of an infant. Having a method to communicate turned it around. My language comprehension was college level in 8th grade when I was actually given a means to show what I knew.

“Loads of us, people all over the world, type to communicate. I am one of many, and we all want people who cannot speak to have the opportunity we are enjoying. I hope that my words today might spark a willingness to proceed on the journey of a lifetime. I hope one of you will take action to give a voice to someone who cannot speak.”

Ido, Sydney and Emma all began writing to communicate by using a letter board.  All of them discuss what it is like to have a mind that “…tells my body and my mouth to do all sorts of wonderful things constantly, but they don’t obey.”  Each of them describes their experience, whether that includes frustration, embarrassment, or shame and what it is like to be so thoroughly misunderstood.

I am grateful to each for allowing me to reprint their words in the hope that others will begin to reconsider their assumptions and how they then respond.

"Happy"

“Happy”

“Put it on the Blog!”

“Put it on the blog!” Emma said with glee as she bounded into the house. A master at multi-tasking, she twirled her string, unzipped her coat and raced off to put on some music all within seconds of opening the front door.  I knew what she wanted to put on the blog.  She’d successfully completed a catch in Trapeze School that morning.  I knew it had been recorded.  So… here it is, for all of you to see.


Yesterday afternoon Emma wrote some pretty wonderful stuff about how her body and mind are often not in sync and what that’s like for her.  We taped some of it and once I have her permission and we’ve uploaded it, I will attempt to post it here.

Earlier I showed Emma a NYTimes article about the missing Malaysian Airlines jet leaving Kuala Lumpur heading to Beijing.  I asked Emma what she thought and she wrote, “It is terrible and worrisome for all of us.”  I then asked if she had any questions and she wrote, “Has anyone asked for anything yet?”  I asked her if she meant a ransom note of some kind, to which she answered, “yes.”

I write this as an example of the sorts of things we discuss these days and because there are some who continue to doubt Emma is capable of understanding such things…

When Time Stands Still

After publishing yesterday’s post, “So Many Kids Are Just Like Me” I added a video of Emma writing those words and more.  I hadn’t added it when I first wrote the post because Emma hadn’t given me permission yet and we were still trying to get the video uploaded, ran into problems with the picture being condensed and other issues.  In any case, for those who want to view it now, you can.  On a personal note, I’ll just add that this video makes me feel very squirmy because it does not capture the playfulness we usually have together, and I’m hyper aware of the anxiety I was feeling while we were taping…  Also the video does seem to be taking longer than it should to load, at least it is on my computer, but Emma has said she’d like to tape more, so I’m hoping we will get better at uploading as we continue.

My friend Alex commented on yesterday’s post about the impact of watching Emma write, as opposed to reading about it.  It was exactly for this reason that we decided it was important to post the video.  There is nothing like seeing in real-time another person writing this way.   No amount of words, no matter how well phrased can describe this process the way watching it in real-time does.

I will never forget that moment at the Autcom Conference in 2012 when I watched a boy, younger than Emma is now, write such insightful and profoundly wise comments  that his mother then read out loud during a presentation.  It was that moment when I thought to myself – maybe, just maybe my daughter has thoughts like this, and we just have to find a way for her to express them.  It makes me cry with gratitude thinking about that moment not so very long ago.  No one could have convinced me then that just a year and a half later we would be where we now find ourselves.

It is inevitable that there will be people who say things like, “well it takes too long” and  “how can this work in a class room?”  But as a parent who has wanted nothing more than to know what my daughter was thinking, who believed despite what the majority of people believed and were telling us that maybe, just maybe they were wrong, watching Emma write is when time stands still.  The excitement I feel when she begins to point to a letter is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  Each letter she points to is a tiny gift wrapped in beautiful paper, as the paper peels back to uncover the word inside the world and everything in it stops.  It is a sensation like none other.

To my daughter, who works so very hard to accommodate my need to hear her experience of the world put into words, I thank you.  Every single time you do, even though you feel it’s tedious, I thank you.  Gratitude does not come anywhere near my feelings.  There are no words for this.  And I know this is a tiny glimpse into what you, Emma, feel every time you are asked to put into words your thoughts.  Words can’t come close…  finally I understand…

Em & Ariane on New Year's Eve ~ 2013

Em & Ariane on New Year’s Eve ~ 2013

“So Many Kids are Just Like Me”

“I am smarter than most people think.  So many kids are just like me.”

Emma wrote this yesterday in response to my question, “What would you like teachers, who want to teach Autistic kids, to know?”

There are a number of young people who write to communicate things that they cannot with spoken words, just as Emma does.  Many of them are starting blogs of their own, some have parents who have blogs and like Emma they are beginning to take ownership of those blogs.  On the “Resources” page here on Emma’s Hope Book I’ve listed a great many blogs beginning with those written by non-speakers, or people who write to communicate.

When Emma wrote “so many kids are just like me” I thought about how when Emma was diagnosed I knew of none (of any age) who wrote to communicate.  The entire concept was completely foreign to me.  In fact, and I hate admitting this, I hadn’t spent any time considering neurology, literacy, language, or which parts of the brain process language.  I remember being confused by the idea that someone who didn’t speak, could still read.  I’ve come a long way!

I would like to take the opportunity to list here just a few blogs that I personally know of where people around or near Emma’s age are writing to communicate.  This is by no means a comprehensive list and I welcome any additions, which I will add here and on the resources page as they come in.

Oliver - Day Sixty-Seven
Philip – Faith, Hope and Love… With Autism 
Aidan
Cindi’s Blog
Henry Frost – Ollibean
Matteo – Matteo’s Loving Blog
Ido – Ido in Autismland
Joey Lowenstein
Nick – Teen Typer

“So many kids are just like me…”

Emma with her friend Henry ~ January 30, 2014

Emma with her friend Henry ~ January 30, 2014

I Used to Believe…

The degree of arrogance displayed by more than a few who claim to be “experts” with decades of hands on experience in the field of autism is absolutely staggering.  Their arrogance is only rivaled by their mindset of assuredness. They are unwavering in their absolute knowing about a neurology that continues to baffle the best neuroscientists in the world.  These practitioners not only speak from a place of “authority” they are imperious, contemptuous and profoundly scornful of any who suggest they might want to consult with a few people who are actually living their lives with the neurology these so-called experts claim to understand and know all about.

We have run into more than a few of these professionals over the years.  These are the people who fill me with fear.  They come into contact with hundreds and thousands of children over their decades of “expertise” and it terrifies me.  They win grants and are paid to speak at conferences.  Their opinions are sought by a great many.  They swagger about with their self importance, wearing their years of working with the Autistic population as though it were a badge of honor.  They think nothing of grouping an entire neurology into a small, convenient box labeled “autism”.

They smirk and posture and plaster their walls with their many credentials and degrees.  They make sure everyone understands exactly how many years they’ve been working in the “field.”  They say things like, “autistic children are…” accuse those they disagree with of “falsehoods” and go on at length about how they know what “autistic children” want, need and care about.  They are profoundly dismissive of those who actually ARE Autistic and who dare question or disagree with them.  Instead of listening to the very people they claim to know so much about, they silence with words of contempt.  They attack.  They strike out, bring in reinforcements of like-minded colleagues.  Sometimes they even target someone, almost always someone who is autistic, and try to do damage to them by contacting their employers, or those they have professional contact with.

I used to be shocked that such people would choose to be in a profession where the people they are supposedly wanting to help, end up being the very people they silence and hurt.  It used to surprise me when I would read comments by people who have no trouble using language either written or spoken to get their point across, dismiss and question someone who does not enjoy the same ease with which they do, to communicate.  I used to be naive enough to believe those calling themselves an “expert,” and had degrees suggesting study and dedication in their given field was further evidence of their title.

I used to believe in a great many things.

*This post is not about any one person, but about the dozens of people I’ve met over the years who fit the above description.  There are many people, both autistic and non autistic, who have dedicated their lives to autism, who (thankfully) do not fit this description.  They are open to new ways of thinking, they are actively listening to those who have different experiences than their own.  All of them are engaged in learning, discovering, uncovering more information and examining what they think.  They are operating from a place of humility, and to those people I am profoundly grateful.

facts
Related posts from others:

Cart Before the Horse Research ~ By Michael Forbes Wilcox

Justifying Our Words

Richard and I have conversations that other people might find odd.  We have little inside jokes we think funny, but that no one else is likely to agree.  We reference conversations we had years ago with a single word or sometimes even a look.  It’s the same with our son and daughter.  In fact, with all of my family and close friends I have at least one or two references that we think funny, but that others witnessing might not understand or see the humor.  With Emma, our inside jokes often come in the form of music.   We will sing to one another or utter a sentence said by someone else years ago, but that now makes all of us laugh.  For no particular reason one of us will say, “Get down Angelo!” and we will collapse in hysterical laughter or instead of saying “Good morning” we will mimic the sound of a quail.  The other will then respond with a similar noise and it is better than any greeting made of words.

When Emma began writing to express her thoughts, insights, and experience of life, I thought she would be so relieved to finally be able to communicate these things to us and the world.  So when she didn’t seem particularly eager to write, I wondered how and why that was possible.  I know communicating in language, whether it is in written or spoken form is difficult and hard work, but I couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t be overjoyed to finally have this connection with other people.

A few months ago I asked Emma about something and she wrote, “Words are not as meaningful to me as they are to you.”  I think about that sentence a great deal.  Emma then told me she senses people.  She wrote, in reference to a question about someone who works at her school, “I can hear her.”  She then added “I feel her.”  I used to be confused by these sentences, but over time I have come to believe Emma means this literally.  Barb Rentenbach, the co-author of the book she wrote with Lois Prislovsky, I Might Be You talks about this as well.  Emma has an acute sense of people’s inner life and as a result, having to translate all of this into words must be tedious and (this is my interpretation of what it might be like for her) a step backwards.

Richard has a theory that Emma is operating at a “higher vibration” or frequency than either of us.  I have the same thought, but use the words a “higher plane,” which has the same meaning.  We both believe Emma is capable of a more sensitive and intense understanding of people than we are.  If I think about those I am close to, I am in tune to their vibes at a higher frequency than I am to strangers.  But what if I was attune to all people I came in contact with at that same level of intensity?  What if I “felt” them the way I can feel my husband and close friends?  What if I sensed the essence of them before they said a word?  What if the words they then said, rote responses to questions like “how are you?” were untrue?

We, non-autistics, tend to view our neurology as better, more efficient, less socially awkward, but in many ways our word-heavy way of communicating is less truthful.  We say things we don’t mean.  We say things we don’t believe, we agree with people we think are more powerful.  We are easily intimidated.  We are swayed by groups of people who share beliefs, even if those beliefs are not something we agree with.  We learn at an early age to question our instincts, to tamp down our emotions, to apologize when we are not sorry, to say things we do not mean and then, once we are adults, we use words like “polite,” and “kind” to justify the lies we tell.

“Words are not as meaningful to me as they are to you.”

Emma, Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky

Emma, Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky

“Talking is Easy, But Saying What I Mean is Hard”

Most of us, who have spent our lives using spoken language as a way to socialize and convey what we are thinking, do not ponder what it would be like if we could not do so.  Most of us who are able to speak do not spend time imagining what it would be like if we could speak, but what came out of our mouths did not necessarily match what was in our minds, or wasn’t what we wanted to say, or was taken to mean something else.  For those of us who speak and have little difficulty having a conversation with another it is difficult to imagine what it might be like if we could not speak at all.  We easily tune out our environment allowing us to focus on what is being said by another person.  Asking questions comes naturally, and without thinking we ask for clarification about things we don’t understand or want to know more about.  When we cannot hear something or lose part of a sentence spoken by another, we ask to have the part we didn’t hear repeated, or request that it be said in a different way.  And even so people misunderstand each other all the time.

But what if we could speak only a little and those hard-earned words we finally managed to say were met with confusion, irritation, even anger and led to misunderstandings.  Or what if speaking words was so difficult it was easier to utter sentences constructed by others, sentences that held special meaning to us because it reminded us of a happy or sad or anxious or frightening time. Whenever one of those emotions surfaced, we would blurt out that sentence from the past, because it so beautifully captured what we were feeling now.  Maybe though, other people who did not understand or know the meaning they held for us, took them to mean something entirely different.

A blogger friend, E. of the fabulous blog The Third Glance wrote an amazing piece, Words, a couple of years ago about trying to participate in a conversation with a group of friends.  I’ve never forgotten that post, it was one of a number of posts that radically changed my thinking.  You can read it by clicking ‘here‘.  She describes wanting to keep up with a conversation that a group of people she knows is having in a busy place, while trying to filter out the noise that comes with being in a public place, the stress of trying to figure out when it would be appropriate to interject a comment, the pressure of knowing some sort of response is expected of her, and not being successful.

Yesterday Emma wrote, “Talking is easy, but saying what I mean is hard.”  I understand that when she wrote that, she meant it literally.  Emma “has language” yet cannot carry on a spoken conversation.  Emma cannot answer with spoken words questions like, “What did you do in school today?”  Or “What did you think of that movie?”  Or “Which student in your class do you like best?”  Or “What’s your favorite subject?”  Or even “What are the names of the other students in your class?” or “Where do we go to borrow books?”  As a result all those so-called reading comprehension questions are met with silence, or with words that seem to have nothing to do with the question asked.

The other person then draws the conclusion that Emma does not understand the question, or cannot read, or isn’t interested, or doesn’t care or is intellectually disabled, impaired, has a disorder, a disease, is afflicted, suffers from, is a puzzle piece, is locked in her own world or any other word or phrase used to convey what we believe to be true because of our understanding of her and those like her based upon what she can or cannot say with spoken words.  This is the same girl who wrote, ““I can’t talk the way I think.  Where is the label for that?”  The same person who eloquently answered questions about functioning labels, stimming and autism, ‘here‘, ‘here‘, and ‘here‘.

“Talking is easy, but saying what I mean is hard.”

Emma Playing the "My Mouth is Glued Shut" Game

Emma Playing the “My Mouth is Glued Shut” Game