That Wasn’t A Question

Last night.  I’m at my computer writing.  Emma walks past me.

Em:  Have cereal and toast?

Me:  Em, you just had dinner a little while ago.

Em:  Time for cereal and toast?

Richard:  What?  No Em.  You just ate.

Em:  Emma’s hungry.   Have cereal and toast.

It took three times, but then I understood.  This wasn’t a question, this was a statement.

And with that, Emma went into the kitchen and fixed herself dinner #2 – cereal and toast, while Richard and I looked at each other and laughed.  

Evening light – New York City, 2013


38 responses to “That Wasn’t A Question

  1. 🙂 Too cute. I can’t wait for my son to say his name in a meaningful way and spit out a nice sentence like that unprompted. And then to be able to make his own cereal and toast! Very wonderful skills she’s got!!

  2. Heh. She will learn the punctuation you need to succeed. This is but one step in our agenda of world domination. 😉

  3. “Agenda of world domination.” Yes!

    [Although it might have a slightly different meaning to Emma and Ariane]. : )

  4. Of course. My mistake. : )

  5. Sometimes, to quote Sebastian the crab, “If you want something done right, you got to do it yourself.” 🙂

  6. Is she a bottomless pit for food too? My husband and I calculated an estimate for how many bananas our son has eaten in his almost 11 years, and we came up with a figure that nears 10 *thousand* – and we should have stock in general mills as well. We’re just starting to get unprompted sentences as a regular thing as well – though I notice it’s always regarding things he loves, “I’m going swimming!” was last night’s….

    • Wonderful news regarding your son’s unprompted sentence!
      Em is very, very picky and eats the same foods day after day. But of those foods that she will eat, she eats more like 5 meals a day than 3. She’s also growing so quickly and is definitely going to be taller than me and I’m almost 5’9″!

      • I hear you – I’m 5’10” (plus a hair) – and he’s past my shoulder! The dr said, “No, he’s ages away from puberty.” But I think not….
        The SpEd teacher he has now is to credit for the expansion of his diet – he had about 8 foods he would eat before he came to her, and after a year of working at it, he would eat nearly anything. Except fish. And, that’s how we found he’s allergic to a couple things, lol. *sigh* But we can go out to restaurants now, and order off the menu, and maybe someday he’ll do it not yelling out only what he wants, but it’s pretty huge, compared to what it was!

  7. Ariane, how wonderful that Emma used her speech spontaneously and with meaning. I think I would faint if my daughter did that at 27 years of age. Yet, with assisted typing she can type some of the most profound things. Shows the different levels of autism there are. Sometimes it makes me sad about Kim’s lack of speech and independence because of motor planning issues, but I am so grateful she has typing skills where she can at least tell me what she needs, thinks, and feels, and knows. Also, Kim will grab food to let me know she’s hungry so I guess that, too, is a way of communicating. 🙂

    • It does, the differences are vast. We move very slowly along with the supported typing, but it is very, very slow going. On the other hand, Richard feels Emma’s language, since we began doing the supported typing, has improved enormously as a direct result!

  8. Go Emma! Cereal and Toast are some of my favorite things to eat for dinner #2, too. I also tend to eat a very limited diet, and more than 3 meals per day… I’m a grazer, not a bulk eater.

    • Whenever I feel worried about Em’s limited diet, I think of you E. and I always, always say to myself – ‘Em’ll be okay. Look at E. she even made her way through europe last summer and it was fine!”

      • Awwww – haha, food oh food. I did make it through Europe. One of the best parts of Italy is the commonality of “pizza bianca” – pizza without tomato sauce. So easy and wonderful, and nobody looked at me funny for it at all. Plus, I also just went out to eat with a bunch of guys who would finish whatever I couldn’t eat. That helped a lot.

  9. speaking about taking over the world, growing up there were no role models to really look up to in the popular media with autism. Now there is the woman who was on the next top model and in the miss America pageant Ms. Montana had autism.

  10. I was told I was autistic when I was much younger. I think I still am but to a much lesser degree than most. I used to hang out in the garbage naked for hours at a time when I was 3. My 3rd world father took me to an exorcist to get the “demons” out. It didn’t take. I now work at and we do a lot to help kids learn the fundamentals of sports so they can stay in the game longer. Our online blog is also good for kids and parents alike to post sports related content. I think it is possible to lead a good life even with something like autism.

  11. very cute…..:-)

  12. Since I’m a recent reader of your blog…was Emma non-verbal as a child? Or only slightly non-verbal. Would you care to send me the titles to some of your past posts talking about Emma when she was younger? I can’t explain why, but for me it is therapeutic to read other’s stories. Especially the hopeful, positive ones!!!

    Cali is only 4 and completely verbal now, however when we started she was very much delayed. Diagnosed a little over two and she had a vocabulary of about 10-15 words and steadily losing some. And she most definitely could not put any words together. Maybe I love you, but to her that was one complete word, “I-uv-oooo”:) She didnt translate love into other meaningful sentences and she certainly wasn’t aware of you being an indicator of someone else, a way to identify someone.

    Ok, I’m rambling…let me know on those posts. I would love to read them!!!

    • I guess you could go to the beginning of the blog and look around, but I warn you, I felt very differently about autism and about having an autistic daughter then so I don’t know how hopeful or positive I was, it’s painful for me to reread those old posts… I was filled with tremendous fear. I began this blog almost three years ago now, and some of those first entries, I did write about The Beginning and The Diagnosis. You could look at those, I say all of this with tremendous reluctance, because as I said, my thinking was very, very different. I knew of no Autistic adults and lived in a state of almost constant panic and worry, not to mention my ignorance and all the misinformation I believed at the time.

      Emma had some language as a baby, then lost all of it and spoke very little if at all. Slowly over time she began to develop more language, but the thing I’ve learned over the years is that Emma’s ability to verbalize her thinking in no way correlates to her knowledge or understanding. She understands far far more than we gave her credit for. In fact, had I known what I know now, I would have done everything so, so differently. Em’s language is not a gauge of her intelligence. That has been key in my evolution in thinking and interactions with her.

      So glad you reached out! *Waves*

  13. Love it!!! Self-determination 101, Mama. I’m getting my cereal and toast, dangit.

  14. It is all a matter of punctuation. Haha! So happy for Em!

  15. I’m all too familiar with the questions meant to be statements issue. My son and his echolalia have frequently found him asking a question (such as you need a new diaper?) which I know is him repeating what he’s heard me ask him before. And without knowing quite yet how to form this into a statement of what he wants, the question then becomes the statement. Fortunately, he’s used this tactic to communicate what he wants for about a year and a half now, so I am familiar enough to know that he’s telling me something, not asking me. There are times when he deliberately uses correct statements though, for example, when he saw the little boy who lives in the apartment below us outside playing in the grass one day this past Summer, he got all kinds of excited and began jumping up and down. he said, “Do you see Julian?” (the name of the little boy) to which I responded by repeating the question, because in this cases he was telling me what he wanted me to ask him so that he could tell me what he wanted. He then astounded me by turning, looking me in the eye and saying flat out, “I want to play outside.” And how could I refuse when he stated it so succinctly? So we went and played outside with Julian, until dinner time.

  16. I have a friend whose 13 year old son with autism has never spoken a word and definitely can’t make his own cereal and toast. I know you have some incredible challenges with your daughter but moments like these also offer a chance to count your blessings!

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