Emma came up with the title of yesterday’s presentation – My Body Does Not Obey My Mind. In preparation for our talk, Emma wrote, “how about discussing gleeful shouts and irreverent clapping as expressions of joy, but that many will see as indications of simple mindedness?” I told her I thought this was a great idea.
During our presentation Emma found a number of people in the audience who happily engaged in making faces with her. One of her favorite faces is one she refers to as “fish lips”. She proceeded to demonstrate “fish lips” and then, after successfully encouraging others to participate, she typed, “Doing fish lips to the audience is an expression of funny playfulness, but can be misinterpreted as simple mindedness. Silliness is acceptable in those who are believed smart, but for those like me, it indicates stupidity.” It was a powerful demonstration of yet another way in which someone like Emma is often misunderstood.
Before leaving to give our presentation yesterday, Emma and I had the following conversation:
Ariane: What other examples can you give that would demonstrate the body/mind disconnect, besides what you think and then what you might say out loud in contrast?Emma: Things like not being able to sit still and needing to jump up. There are many examples like that. In my mind I am graceful and move like a dancer and speak with passion and the articulation of an acting coach.Ariane: Aw… that’s really beautifully expressed, Emma. Really, really powerful.I need to be careful not to take control of our presentation, because you must take the lead.Emma: You will be very good. Don’t worry, I will be charming and will have your back.Ariane: Oh, Emma, thank you for the encouragement, that means a lot to me.Are you going to ask me questions if you think there’s something I’m missing or not talking about?Emma: Yes, thoughts of fear worry you, but I know what I want to say.
This morning, we again discussed our presentation, which began with me asking Emma how she thought it went:
Emma: Spoken words cannot compete with typed power house wording of dramatic charm.Ariane: You were charming! And, as always, so insightful! I’m so proud of you.Emma: Teaching by real life demonstration, pleases all.Ariane: I agree! What was the experience like for you, sitting in front of such a large audience?Emma: Happiness, overwhelming joy to be able to show off my inner eloquent and funny self.Ariane: You were eloquent and very funny! I think you touched a great many people yesterday. I think many will rethink what they have believed about autism and those they care for, who are autistic, because of you.Emma: Brave honesty opens minds and hearts. I hope people will question what they have been told.Ariane: I do too.Emma: Horrible ideas about people cause many to do terrible things, and treat someone like me with repetitive demands for compliance.Ariane: Perhaps meeting you, will make them pause and reconsider their approach.Emma: Showing humor and compassion for them is my belief and way of prodding them to venture down different roads.Ariane: You are such a wonderful example of loving kindness put into action!Emma: Worry and fear are fueled by furious words spoken harshly, humor soothes, shining sunny rays spreading hope.Ariane: It’s a much needed hope. I’m so proud of you.Emma: Knowing pride brightens, giving gifts of hope dulls years of lingering sadness for schooling gone awry.