Life has, quite suddenly, taken a dramatic turn. Over the weekend I finally came to the decision that I cannot keep my business AND finish this book I’m writing AND work with Emma AND have the time to study this method of helping her, so that I can help others help her. This feels like a good decision, the right decision, one I’ve been struggling with since last fall, but finally feel ready to take the actions to make this happen. So this morning as I looked around my studio, wondering how I was going to sort through everything and begin the process of dismantling a business and a working studio, I received a call from Emma’s school. They are putting on a show next week and there have been some issues that required my presence. As I’ve been going to her school every Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to teach some of the staff how to support her so she can write with them too, I left a little earlier than usual.
After school we met with the principal who asked Emma what she did for mother’s day, Emma wrote, “Mom helped me talk to my brother.”
“Oh! What did you talk about,” the principal asked.
“We talked about whether Truman should have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Emma wrote. Then she stood up and ran across the room, whipping her arms around like windmills before settling back in her chair.
It was decided that Emma needs to be in a classroom where she is being taught the same curriculum as her same age non autistic peers. Except that she is not yet able to write with anyone at her school the way she can with me, so I volunteered to come in until someone can be trained. It makes perfect sense. But as Emma and I left her school yesterday, I thought to myself – what did I just agree to? It was one of those moments when the full weight of what you’ve committed to hits you and you think – am I going to be able to do this? Really? Can I do this?
Well, I guess we’ll see. And for the next ten days I will get an interesting view into how her school does things. And here’s the other thing… There is nothing I could do that comes even close to being as important as finding a way for my daughter to communicate in a way that gives her greater access to this “awkward world” as she wrote the other day. No book I might write, no piece of jewelry I might design, nothing comes close.
My life is suddenly no longer what it was. I am nervous about going to her school with her and essentially being her one on one aide, but I am also really curious to see how it goes and I’m excited to see her in a class where, I’m hoping, she will be challenged.
Before we left school yesterday, the principal asked Emma whether she preferred being referred to as a young lady with autism or an Autistic young lady, Emma wrote, “I am an Autistic girl and proud of it.”
The principal smiled and asked, “Why do you prefer being called Autistic?”
“Because autism is part of me and can’t be removed,” Emma wrote.
“That makes sense,” her principal said.
I told the principal and assistant principal how fortunate we are that I have a number of friends who are Autistic, one of whom is like a sister to me. And then Emma wrote, “They are my Autistic family.”
How lucky are we?
The journey continues…