On Autism, Honesty and the Art of Not Yelling

Be honest.  This is what Richard reminds me when I feel stuck.  Whether its regarding my writing or when we are discussing something that is difficult or when I simply feel confused.

Be honest.

Sometimes it’s easy, like when I feel sad and a little frightened that Richard threw his back out again and is in so much pain he can barely walk or I’m annoyed because while waiting for the subway this morning a woman cut me off and sat in the only vacant seat, forcing me to stand or how happy I felt last night when Nic asked me to watch an episode of ‘Chopped’ with him and then pulled a blanket up around us both and said, “I love this, Mommy.  We’re having a son and mom moment.”  Or the sadness that tempered that joy because my next thought was – Emma cannot say that, does not say that, has never said that and then scolded myself for having had that thought because Emma can and does talk, while so many other kids cannot speak, let alone express more complex thinking.

Be honest.

Sometimes I just want to yell and say exactly what comes to mind, because, after all, wouldn’t THAT be more honest?  I already know the answer.    Not yelling is highly underrated, it seems to me.

Be honest.

I want people to love Emma exactly as she is.  I want people to understand when they meet her that in her short life she has already known more pain and discomfort than any young child should have to feel.  I want people to speak to her as they would any ten year old and not like she’s an animal.

I want people to be nicer to each other, which means I have to do my part.  A recent study came out saying autism may be due to older male sperm.  That evening I said to Richard, “Well that gets me off the hook.  It turns out all of Emma’s suffering is your fault.  It’s a huge relief.”  Luckily Richard loves me anyway, even when I say things like that and replied, “I’m so glad I could help you out with that, honey.”

And he did and does.

I’ll end with the conversation I had with Emma last night, showcasing her negotiating skills, inherited from her amazing dad.


“Yes Emma?”

In a sing-songy voice, she said, “Mommy takes me to the zoo tomorrow?” (It’s from a picture book entitled Going to the Zoo, from the Peter Paul and Mary song of the same name.)

“Not tomorrow, Emmy.  I can’t take you tomorrow, but you and Joe could go.”

“No!  Just Mommy,” she pointed to me and then pointing to herself, she added, “and me.  Go to the zoo together.  Maybe this weekend?”

“Yes.  We can go this weekend.”

“Just Mommy.”




“Time to read a story now.”

“Okay, Em.  I love you.”

“So much.”

(As my mother pointed out after I posted this, this conversation was a perfect demonstration of Emma expressing her desire for a – Mommy and daughter moment!)

To read my most recent Huffington Post, click ‘here.’

To read my guest post on Special Needs.com, click ‘here

13 responses to “On Autism, Honesty and the Art of Not Yelling

  1. When she said “Just Mommy and me” she IS saying “this is a mom and daughter moment”, she’s just using different words, but the feeling is the same..honestly.

    • You know sometimes things that are so obvious to others, seem so hidden to us. When I read this from you, I thought – of course she is! How did I miss that?
      But maybe I didn’t miss it completely. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious I’d made the connection and that’s why it came to me to write it down. I wasn’t aware of it when I wrote this post this morning, but now with your pointing it out, it all seems so incredibly obvious! Thank you. You were my angel today, lighting the way. XXX

  2. Smiles all around. To you. To Richard. To Nic. To Emma. To Granma. Smiles to the people and moments like you wrote about in this post that light up our life. 🙂

  3. I had to giggle about your “older man sperm” comment because my husband and I had the same conversation this week…only ours involved me adding that it was my fault because of my obesity and then he chimmed in it was because he was old too! We had the double whammy and each apparently get a 50/50 claim! 🙂 Good to share the wealth! 🙂

    • Oh Becky – that made me laugh! Every time they come out with a new study I think, nope, didn’t do that, nope never drank coffee, nope never used drugs, nope no antidepressants, nope… then someone sent me a list of all the theories about causes and it was like something from the satirical newspaper The Onion. Sunbathing, using sun screen, any and all artificial sweetners, using a microwave, drinking anything from a plastic bottle, etc. It turns out none of us get off the hook! But I feel like I’m in good company, at least.

  4. Beautiful! Its a wonderful reminder that even though they may not express it in a “typical” manner, their wants and needs and love are just like everyone else’s. I have to constantly remind myself that I am lucky that my son shows me his love, even if its with a hug, or a smile or lightly placing his hand on my arm and looking at me in a loving way. He may not say “I love you” spontaneously, but he sure works hard to show me he does in other ways 🙂

  5. Hi Shiri! Funny how I didn’t see that she was saying the same thing as my son had until my mother pointed it out. So great you “see” it as it must be so hard to show your love only to have the other person not understand.

  6. Ariane, that was a lovely post. And yea all the new ‘studies’ they come out with. wow, sometimes I’m laugh and sometimes it angers me. it’s like, let’s grasp at more straws why don’t we? Your daughter sounds so sweet and if you do think about it, her wanting that ‘mom and daughter moment’ with you is her way of saying I love you. We have to remember that even if someone is non verbal, they still feel, and think and are capable of so much, just like anyone else. I have faith that with your daughter, the words eventually will come but for now she expresses it in other ways. Besides, isn’t that real love anyway? Expressing it? Anyone can just say it but showing it means so much more.

    • hi Tina, thanks so much for commenting. Yes, how we express love can be in ways others don’t anticipate or expect, but it doesn’t lessen the feelings. Thank you for the reminder that her way is just as powerful, maybe even more, than those much desired words – “I love you.”

  7. Brett walked through the living room this weekend…..I was minding my own business. He came up to me, offered me his head for a kiss and kept on a walkin’! :O) Something he never does unprompted. This is only the second time he has ever came up to me and asked in his Brett way for a kiss from me. His version of a kiss is to bend his head down and you kiss him there. He can not stand to have someone in his face so kissing him on the cheeks, lips, forehead are pretty much out! :O) Just wanted to share with you…..wherever they land on the spectrum, they have theirs ways!! :O) Blessings~

  8. Oh, that is so wonderful. I love that image of him doing that with you.

Leave a Reply to Ariane Zurcher Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s