*Emma gave me permission to write about the following…*
Every Tuesday afternoon I go to Emma’s school where Emma and I do a sample lesson, or Emma answers questions from staff or sometimes someone wants to share what they worked on with her and what her answer was. As Emma “talks” by pointing with a pencil to the letters on a laminated letter board she twirls her string, and often, while she is “talking” by writing, she is also talking, as she describes it, “with my mouth” at the same time. When I mentioned this to her at our last training session she smiled and wrote, “It is hard for non autistic people to multitask as well as I can.” Which was one of those frequent – oh-my-gosh-Emma-you-are-so-fabulous – moments, because, really, not only does she have a wickedly wonderful sense of humor, but whoa(!) how right she is!
Later Emma wrote in answer to the question, “Is it problematic for you to switch from the letter board to a qwerty board, she wrote, “No. It’s not a problem. Is it hard for you?” I was so taken aback by her response, because, honestly I had not ever considered that it isn’t a problem for me, so why did I assume it would be for her? And yet, I have. This was yet another reminder to me of how I presume competence as best I can with all that I know and yet, am humbled by constant little nudges urging me to go farther. How beautiful is that? Seriously?!
When I began witnessing people who use spoken language like my daughter does or who do not speak at all, but write, often poetically, often beautifully, I was astonished. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It’s been close to two years now since that first time I witnessed in real life someone communicating this way. At first I was so incredulous, all I could do was watch and try to take in what I was witnessing. After many encounters, repeated by so many people, men, women, teenagers, boys and girls as young as seven or eight I went from shocked amazement to a more calm feeling of excitement, but even now, having spent nearly every day watching my daughter write this way, I often still feel like I’m in a dream. It is as though I have been allowed into another dimension, and it is more beautiful than anything I ever believed possible.