Every morning after her breakfast, Emma listens to music, which she dances and sings to. This morning she played Dionne Warwick. Emma has choreographed specific dances for specific songs and in one she has even incorporated a series of somersaults; it’s a kind of Cirque Du Soleil goes disco moment. When one of us dances with her she will sometimes dance with us while laughing, but just as often will turn her back or, as she did last night yell, “No Mommy. Sit down!” So horrified was she by my undulations. At other times she will hold an arm out in front of her with her hand held like a shield blocking her eyes from us, although I think from her perspective we are the ones being blocked from her. We’ve made a game out of this and will dart around her so that we are within sight while Emma shrieks with laughter.
“She wants to engage with others,” one of the many specialists noted during an evaluation when Emma was just three years old. ”No one can teach a child that. You’re way ahead of the game.”
When Emma was first diagnosed I read about how autists are unable to understand emotions and have little if any desire for interaction. I then reached the conclusion that were this true Emma didn’t feel the full range of emotions we neuro-typicals do. But I quickly found this to be false. In fact, I would say the opposite is true. Emma feels the full range of emotions available to any of us in high-def. I have seen the look on her face when she thinks she will get to see one of her cousins, but is told they are not coming after all. Emma’s feelings get hurt, she feels tremendous disappointment, she prefers being with her family more than anything in the world, she finds comfort in specific people just as any other child does. She has favorite friends at school whom she seeks out. If anything Emma is an extremely sensitive child, just as her brother is, the difference is she isn’t able to talk to us about her feelings, at least not yet, and the way she conceptualizes situations may be different, I don’t know. What I do know is that Emma feels a great deal. Her feelings are easily hurt, she feels tremendous frustration, disappointment, sadness as well as happiness, joy, excitement, anticipation and love.
Before Joe took the kids to a giant indoor water park two weeks ago, Emma said, “I’m so excited! Mommy and Daddy come too?” Her full range of emotions were obvious in those two utterances.
Regarding our IEP meeting yesterday – thank you to all who reached out. These meetings are never fun and this one proved to be no different from the rest. We did insist that Emma’s sensory issues be noted, though we were told the words “sensory diet” could not be used as they were a specific methodology and therefore could not be included in the report. We found this somewhat baffling as a sensory diet is not a “methodology.” It’s a bit like saying someone’s wheelchair is a “methodology,” but rather than quibble with them, we made sure specific references were made throughout her IEP, which should help, if anyone actually bothers to read it. At least they didn’t say – “Oh yes, I see here that she eats a limited number of foods,” which was what was said to us several years ago during another IEP meeting when we spoke of the need for a “sensory diet.”
I will end with a series of Prepper acronyms WTSHTF (When The S**t Hits The Fan) at least we’ll have our BOB (Bug Out Bag – enough supplies to last a week or so) or at the very least our GOOD kit (Get Out Of Dodge) so that we’ll be prepared for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). I am not making these up. They exist. I swear. Gotta love that. And for all of you as amused by The Donald’s (TD’s) “hair” as I am, he claims it is NOT a weave, though some have speculated that it’s a “double comb over” (DCO) which is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, so I’m going with that theory. I promise I’m done. OAO. (Over And Out.)
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: Emma’s Hope Book