The Gift of Emma

In the days leading up to Christmas, Ariane excitedly told me that Emma had written, “I want to write a story about Daddy.” Ariane said it was going to be my Christmas present. Obviously, I was incredibly excited as well. But on the following day Ariane came to me after her writing session with Emma and said:

“This story is going to make you cry.”

On Christmas morning, when I untied the bow around the paper Ariane had rolled up, I braced myself. The story was indeed sad, yet hopeful, wonderful and important, like all of Emma’s stories. It was also very private, and so, days later, I still hadn’t asked Emma if I could/should publish it. Ariane asked her today and Emma said she didn’t want the entire story published, but it was okay to post this section:

“One day there was a man and woman who fell in love.  They eventually had two children, one son and one daughter.  They were very happy.  The daughter was distinctly different, but meant well.  She did not understand many of the ways of her family.

“Her father told her that she was kind and smart.  She ran away because no one believed her to be clever, even though her parents did.  Her father wanted many to realize how smart she really was.  So he told others “do not treat my daughter like a baby.”  People did not listen.

“His daughter was sad, but her parents believed in her, and that mattered more.  She was the luckiest girl in the world.”

I’m so glad Emma feels this way. I wish she were even “luckier” and we had known all these things about her many years ago. I do truly believe that I am the luckiest dad in the world. Like Emma, I feel incredibly sad that I underestimated Emma for so long, that I was so utterly clueless to this entirely different aspect of her, that I could not see and appreciate. But I feel so blessed today to hear and see all these amazing parts of Emma I had never understood.

“Better late than never” is an apt phrase to convey both the joy and sorrow I feel, now that I’m aware of what is certainly only a small fraction of Emma’s talents, feelings, insights, intelligence and her poetic soul. It is also an apt phrase to convey the necessity of getting this message out to the world, something that Emma and Ariane, and so many other autistic people and their families and friends have been struggling so hard to do for so long, in the face of an Everest-sized mountain of misinformation from so-called “autism experts.” The most heinous sub(human) class of these is the “debunking” posse, who seem to spend every waking moment of their lives trying to discredit any assisted communication methods for autistic people. Yet no matter how hard they try, and they do try really hard–they will never succeed in keeping these blindingly brilliant autistic minds imprisoned by their willful and malicious ignorance.

The three best gifts I’ve ever been blessed with are my wife Ariane (who I met at a party on Christmas day 15 years ago!), and my wonderful children, Nicholas (age 13), and Emma (who turns 12 in January).

Emma is such a wonderful gift in so many ways. I could write another (even longer) post just listing all the amazing blessings she has brought to me and our family. But I’ll simply conclude by repeating one of the sections of her story that Emma agreed to publish, because it’s the kind of “better late than never” message so many more people need to hear:

“Her father wanted many to realize how smart she really was.  So he told others ‘do not treat my daughter like a baby.’  People did not listen.”

Maybe they are listening now, Emma. Maybe more and more people will hear your voice and the voices of your autistic brothers and sisters. Maybe all these people will someday be lucky enough to experience the gift of Emma.

Emma showing off her new red beret and her new art work (a collage of relatives).

Emma showing off her new red beret and her new art work (a collage of relatives).


28 responses to “The Gift of Emma

  1. You dear people, bless! ❤
    I believe this blog, Emma's story really, gives a lot of people HOPE indeed and opens their eyes to the many ways to live WITH autism – and not fight it.
    My son's autism is different but the insights and thoughts of your family's story has brought a lot of joy to me and I know it does to others, too. That is, indeed, Emma's gift to all of us. 🙂

  2. There is such a candid expression of love in this that I can’t help but feel warm and happy. Thank you all so much. ❤

  3. She is truly a gift! This blog is truly a gift, so much insight!

  4. OK, just that part of her story made ME teary, and she is not even my kid!

  5. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Your story needs to be retold many times. Trust me, even those of us who can speak can face huge challenges. I know I have been underestimated and misunderstood all my life. We need to tell our stories to the world. Thank you again for helping to do that. You are an amazing family.

  6. Oh, how beautiful, honest, sad, yet joyful! May I quote what Emma wrote in a facebook post? I had just reached out to FB friends, because I’ve been having a “bad autistic day”–thankfully, they are few and far between. I have spent the last few years really learning to understand my personal brand of autism, so I know how to make my environments work for me, but the world still overwhelms me from time to time. I will always see my extreme sensitivity to the world–all its beauty and silence as well as its ugliness, chaos, and noise–as a blessing. So, most days are “good autistic days”!

  7. Chou Chou Scantlin

    Lovely:) Happy New Year to you all! 💕✨💕

  8. I love reading the things Emma writes! I wish a lot of people who work with kids with autism would read this blog and realize that, if someone cannot talk, that doesn’t mean they can’t think!

  9. So touching and honest and sweet. 🙂 I enjoy your daughter’s stories and snippets of stories.

  10. Beautiful Angel of Light that girl is 🙂 and amazing parents too 😉

  11. Armed with all you know and will learn, 2014 will be so wonderful for all of you. Each of you is a gift to each other; thank you for flourishing the world, you are giving so much hope to everyone on it.

  12. The red beret! It suits her. What a prolific author she’s become in a matter of months.

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