Living with an autistic child, forces one to “think out of the box.” Emma’s mind is, to a neuro-typical person, a tangled web of odd phrases, misplaced pronouns, questions posed that may be statements or may be questions, interchangeable tenses, words used literally within non literal contexts. I often find myself feeling I have been given a Zen koan when I’m with Emma. For those who may not know what a koan is, it is a non-answerable verbal puzzle. One of the most famous Zen koans is: Two hands clap to make a sound. What sound does one hand make? The answer is – there is no answer and if you attempt to verbalize one you miss the point.
Emma’s behavior is often perplexing, her speech difficult to decipher, her desires often impossible to understand. And just as with a Zen koan, if one attempts to apply intellect and reasoning to Emma’s actions, one will have missed the point. My best, most joyful moments with Emma are when I am simply present. No agenda, no preconceived plan of action, no desired outcome, just present in her company, enjoying her without judgment.
Here are some of my favorite photos of Emma when she was young before all eye contact went away and one taken over the weekend now that her eye contact has returned.