Em and I returned home Friday night. It was an exhilarating trip, but also an exhausting one. These trips always are. We went from having daily sessions with Soma (you can read more about Emma’s experience working with Soma ‘here‘, ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ and more about Soma and RPM by clicking ‘here‘) that were so incredibly exciting, I could barely take in all that my daughter was writing. Personal, gut wrenchingly, painful insights, loving notes of gratitude to my husband and me that made me weep with joy, but also bittersweet because it is she who has had to put up with us and not the other way around. Her writing displays an almost unfathomable intellect, wisdom beyond her years as well as compassion and patience for all who do not understand her, for those who doubt, for those who do not believe her and all she is capable of, for all who talk down to her, my daughter is a beacon of kindness, forgiveness and compassion.
I do not want people to come away with ideas about saintliness, holiness or angels being dropped down from the heavens and inhabiting her body. I cannot and do not believe in any of that and it dismisses the many challenges and struggles my daughter must endure. Above all else my daughter is a human being, just like you, just like me, very much grounded on this earth and in this life, but she is also exemplary in her ability to see the good in others. It is something I am trying hard to emulate. It is as though the more she writes about what she believes and thinks, the angrier I become. The more enraged I am that we have all believed so easily, without question, the standard assumptions about Autistic people and autism and what that means.
I understand that for many they just cannot believe someone like my child is capable of knowing so much despite having had little formal education, but instead has spent all of her school years segregated in special education schools where she reads below age level literature and is taught the value of nickels, dimes and pennies because it is assumed she does not understand concepts such as money and time. I understand. I do. I was one of those people not so long ago. But now I know otherwise. We are fortunate that her current school is open, willing and interested in learning all she is capable of. They have expressed interest and their intent to support her and to help in any way they can. We will be revising her IEP soon. It will be quite a revision!
Now we are home and I know better than to expect I will be able to pick up where Soma left off. I know better than to think I will be able to sit down with my daughter and accomplish the same level of writing I witnessed this past week. I have to pick up from where I left off before our trip to Texas. This can feel incredibly frustrating and even depressing, but I am learning to not delve too deeply in despair, but rather continue moving forward with the knowledge that I will and already have progressed in my ability to support my daughter better each day so that one day she will be able to converse with me on a similar level as she does with Soma.
This disparity between what Soma is able to do and what those at home then try, has caused a few to claim that therefore Soma’s method is flawed or is cause for suspicion and doubt. What I have come to understand is that my Autistic child is intensely sensitive to her relationships. I cannot sit down and expect to have her write to me as she does with someone who developed this system and who has fine tuned it, perfected it along the way, while working with close to a dozen people every day for over ten years now. It is akin to expecting that I will be able to set a diamond as well as a master jeweler who has been perfecting his craft over the last twenty years or after taking a painting class be able to create something on par with Rembrandt or after taking French 101 go to France and speak fluently. We do not expect any of these things from each other or ourselves, and yet, people decide something like RPM will be easy and simple and anyone will be able to do it instantly and when they cannot, the flaw is in RPM. I have met too many other people who are practicing RPM to see that it is this thinking that is flawed.
Em chose toenail polish for both of us!