Yesterday I took Nic and Emma to a relatively new carousel on the refurbished park along the Hudson River. It’s unlike other carousels in that it has a wide variety of animals, fish and insects instead of the traditional horses one usually sees. Emma likes to ride on the Atlantic Sturgeon, with the Unicorn and Wild Turkey coming in second and third.
“I’d ride on the hyena or the coyote,” Nic told me when Emma chose the Atlantic Sturgeon for a second time. ”What would you ride on?”
“I’d have to go with the Harbor Seal,” I answered.
“Yeah, that would be a smooth ride,” he said. We watched Emma go around and around. Every now and again she’d use the waist strap to tap the sturgeon, as though she were urging it on. ”Mom?”
“So how do you blow bubbles with your gum anyway?”
“Okay, here I’ll show you,” I said, taking a piece of gum from his remaining pack.
“Emma blows huge bubbles. I just don’t get it,” he said as I chewed the gum, trying to get it to the right consistency.
“Well she chews a lot of gum…”
Nic interupted me, “Yeah, I know, because of her ears.”
“Exactly, so she’s had a lot of practice. But here, watch.” I tried several times to demonstrate how to blow a bubble, which is quite a bit more difficult to explain than one might think.
After several attempts Nic said, “I think it’s a girl thing.”
We watched Emma for awhile on the carousel.
“What is, Nic?”
“I mean Emma’s so good at some things, but so bad at others. Like she can blow bubbles and taught herself to swing and she’s really good on the scooter, but she still can’t read or write very well. I think it’s interesting,” he said.
“Well, you’re right Nic. There are things that are much easier for her and then lots of other things that are really hard.”
“But I don’t get it.” He looked at me expectantly.
“Yeah. I know. It’s difficult to understand. It’s the wiring in her brain. It makes a great many things really, really difficult for her.”
Nic kept trying to blow bubbles with his gum.
“Does that make sense?” I asked.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. ”Not really.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s really hard for us to understand. There’s so much more we don’t know about autism than there is we do.”
“Do you think I’ll ever be able to blow a bubble?”
“Yes. You just have to keep practicing.”
“But you don’t let me chew gum that much.”
“Yeah, that makes it harder.”
Nic stared at me with a little half smile on his face.
“Hey, you get to do all kinds of other things that Emma doesn’t get to do, and the only reason we let her chew gum is because of her ears.”
Nic kept grinning at me.
“Nothing, Mom. Nothing.”
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism and her older brother, Nic’s experiences along the way, go to: www.EmmasHopeBook.com