Ariane Zurcher is a writer, public speaker, artist, award-winning jewelry designer and owner of Ariane Zurcher Designs. She blogs about art, design, marriage, parenting, inspiration and life on Where Art & Life Meet, is a guest contributor on Emma’s Hope Book and writes on a variety of topics for the Huffington Post. Ariane Zurcher’s writing has been published in: Allure, Elle Magazine, Options, XX1st Century, Aspen Magazine, Aspen Times, Special Needs Parenting, Parenting Magazine and many others.
Ariane Zurcher was the voice of Barb for the audiobook – I Might Be You by Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky, wrote the foreward to Judy Endow’s book: Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated and has given presentations with her daughter, Emma, at a number of conferences and schools around the country.
Ariane Zurcher lives in New York City with her husband, two children and their impish cat.
To view Ariane Zurcher’s jewelry go to: www.arianezurcher.com
Ariane Zurcher Designs Facebook page
Ariane – I’m so happy you have decided to document Emma’s journey. We, too, were in Costa Rica in March, but we weren’t there pioneering medicine by any means. I hid in my room while my family experienced all The Four Season’s had to offer. Experiencing an allergic reaction to something I am ingesting, I stayed behind pouting and sulking over my case of severe and worsening acne on my face. How silly and how selfish I feel after reading about Emma’s journey. I pray that these stem cell treatments provide Emma with the promising results others have experienced. I pray for these brilliant scientists to continue their remarkable work and for your dogged determination to help your family. I wish I had an ounce of your let’s-fix-it attitude …
Just plugged into the internet having no contact for four days. I wrote Richard as well. Please continue to take the time to write here. It’s inspiration for all of us in our own lives. Portraying your lives sends a message of hope and increases our beloved friends and family’s determination to support Emma as she grows into a fully engaged, beautiful young woman. Rock on, Em! (and Nic and Merlin….:)
hi ariane and richard
i cannot stop thinking about you and this journey you are undertaking. I got your email regarding your trip to costa rica just before the kids spring break and it was all i could think about! I am sorry but all I can think about is how lucky emma is to have parents with the talents you two possess. The talents of perception and to really see your baby from the first moments. When my older daughter was born I congratulated myself when i concluded that she was not a particularly pretty baby and saw that i would not be one of those simpering new moms ‘oh look at my beautiful baby’ yech I liked her but I was seeing her without blinders, I still like her even though she is 12 now but that is another blog! I still hope i am realistic and observant when it comes to my kids But this is nothing compared to the way you have been able to see emma from the start and also have the talent to be able to express her feelings and yours so beautifully.
So please do not forget that emma is a very lucky little girl also. We will all be thinking of you and wishing emma all the best. yaz
Ariane and Richard,
I only wish you were both here so I could hug the stuffin’ out of you. Thanks so much for sharing with us all. What a gift. I’m so proud to have you all in my life and can’t wait to hear Emma sing again this summer.
Even I, who after all have seen Emma many, many times when you all are here staying in your “home away from home” am learning a lot about ASD from this website. You are both so sharing and loving, that it brings tears to my eyes just to read what you say about that darling girl.
I had dinner with Amanda Boxtel last night and she wants the website, so will send it on right away.
I am so very happy to read through your blog and see that Emma is ON HER WAY! She is going to make it, I just know it. Keep it up, Emma (and Ariane and Richard and Nic, too). Love, Susan (and Niels, and Ana)
Both Linda and I are wishing you all a wonderful result from this trip. Your writing allows us all to be there with you and to try to feel what this experience is like for you and the family. Love, Jay and Linda
Dearest Jay and Linda,
Thank you so much for reaching out to us. It is a bit surreal being out here and can feel isolating as well. Your words and thoughts make us feel grounded and less alone. With all our love to you and Linda. It will be good to come home. XXX
I’m so happy to have found this. My step- daughter was JUST diagnosed with Asperger’s…she’s 16…after reading Emma’s journey, everything is starting to make sense. Thank you so much!!
I love Emma’s blog! and have been thinking about you a lot lately…wondering about the new boutique…and hoping we can talk soon! Also, I want to link your blog to mine. xoxo
How wonderful to hear from you! I’ll email you from regular account. Was just thinking of you too. How funny. XXX
Very good article in the Huffington Post. I’m thirty years ahead of you. My book, Autism-Believe in the Future, from Infancy to Independence is Robin’s journey and what worked for her. She has been employed for 17 years, lives in her own condo for 10, driving for 11 years, second job for 4 years and boy friend for 3 years. Independence is a journey all its own but well worth the effort! Never say never.
I love hearing this! Thank you so much for writing. It gives all of us hope to hear from those who came before us. Thanks so much Ann. I look forward to reading your book.
Dear Ms. Zurcher,
I love your blog! Your family is so beautiful and your story inspirational.
I am also the mother of special girls, one with Asperger’s and one with autism,
so I can relate to so much that you write. I was hoping you might review or
highlight a book I have written on autism and girls. As I am sure you well
know, girls have long been the unstudied and unseen minority in the world of
autism. They present differently, are diagnosed later, and feel the effects of
their neurological differences in ways that often starkly contrast with their
male counterparts. Autism or not, they are still girls, and that changes
everything. I felt there was a need for a book that addressed the special
challenges of raising girls, but encouraged parents as well.
The book is called Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum: Overcoming the
Challenges and Celebrating the Gifts. It was released in March by Jessica
Kingsley Publisher, a well-respected English publisher with a long history of
offering books on autism by folks like Dr. Tony Attwood. In fact Dr. Attwood and
developmental pediatrician, James Coplan, offered generous quotes for the back
cover. And while I used my experiences with my girls as a starting point, the
book is a solidly researched-based, resource book rather than just a personal
narrative. Part of the book focuses specifically the ways girls with autism deal
with the stresses and stereotypes involved with being girls. And a good part of
it focuses on the wonderful and refreshing way girls on the spectrum are true to
themselves in a world that too often demolishes all that is wonderfully quirky
As I mentioned, I am the mother of two daughters on the spectrum – Lizzie, a
beautiful 15 year-old who initially was diagnosed with PDD, but now would best
be described as having Asperger’s Syndrome. She is a musical fan and
participates in her school’s theatrical productions. My younger daughter
Caroline is 12, and she has high-functioning autism. She has come so far through
behavioral therapy, inclusive programming in school, lots of great experiences,
and tons of love. Although Caroline still has autism, she is a fantastic
speller, does long division, and plays the trumpet in her school band.
This book is not about curing autism, but helping girls on the spectrum reach
their full potential through education, patience, opportunity, and unconditional
love. My book is not anti-vaccine, nor is it about biomedical interventions. It
is about helping our children through education, love, and acceptance of who
they are. Both of my girls are marvelous human beings, full of kindness,
talents, and joy. I have learned much about life, love, and being fully alive
from my daughters. I have never viewed them as deficient or ill, just
wonderfully and uniquely themselves.
I wrote this book for several reasons. First, there are so few resources to help
the parents of girls on the spectrum. Also, the books out there which are
available are so negative about autism, regarding it as a disease to be cured.
This is not how I see it at all. I wanted to share a more hopeful and loving
perspective our girls to offer parents hope and comfort, as well as a ton of
practical information about how to help their daughters develop all their
talents and potential.
Although I am not naive about what the future might bring, I feel my girls’ best
chance for safe and productive lives is to spread the message that autism in no
way diminishes a person’s worth or wholeness as a human being. I think if we can
advocate as parents from that position, our children stand a better chance of
living well when are no longer here to watch over them. That is why I wanted to
write a book that encourages as well as informs.
If you are willing, I would love to have the publisher send you a copy of the
book. As a first-time author (high school English teacher and mom in real life),
I have found the publicity part of this to be the toughest part. Any assistance
or advice you can offer would be most appreciated.
Thanks so much for your time and consideration.
Eileen Riley-Hall Cell # 518-441-5591 519-899-6707
Here is the link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Girls-Autism-Spect
I would be happy to read your book and we’ll go from there. Have them send to:
Ariane Zurcher Designs,
43 32 22nd Street, Studio 401-3
Long Island City, NY 11101
Hi Ariane! I wanted to say thank you so much for yesterday’s article on the Huffington Post about taking inspiration from autistic adults in viewing the possible futures for your daughter. I wanted to leave this comment on the article, but HuffPo seems to have me in some kind of probation after creating a new account today.
Anyway, you described in detail an issue that I’ve been talking about for several years now (as an autistic adult myself) — the problems created by the disconnect between the way media outlets present autism and the way autism is in the real world. There’s about as much similarity between real autism and media presentations like Rain Man as there is between a real-life police chase and the movie Smokey and the Bandit! And it unfortunately has resulted in a 90% unemployment rate for autistic adults in the US that I’m working to improve.
Moreover, beyond being thrilled by your corroboration, I feel your article gave me much better insight into the experience of so many parents of autistic children who have to start unraveling the mythology of autism and teasing out the truth beginning on the day their child is diagnosed. I feel I have a better understanding and especially as an autistic adult, better empathy for those parents now. That’s a rare gift. Thank you. 🙂
I look forward to reading more of your articles.
Sincerely, Sam Dealey
Hi Sam, what a lovely comment. Thank you so much. Huffington Post is often difficult with their log in, not sure exactly what the problem is over there, and you’d think they’d fix it as they have so many people commenting.
Really appreciated your comment, Sam. It means a great deal to me. I look forward to getting to know you better in the future.
Why are you so worried about your daughter? I’m 52 years old and autistic. I own my home and drive three cars (two are Lexus and two have been paid off). I’ve worked two jobs for more than ten years each. I’ve been on my own since I “aged-out” of the foster care system in 1978. I’ve seen terrible things growing up, things no child should ever have to see. I have multiple sclerosis. Yet I have survived. A Chinese woman asked me a question the other day, she asked me how did I find the will to live; what gave me meaning in my life. Was it a belief in God? You know what I said to her? What gave me the will to live wasn’t a belief in a make believe God that you cannot hear, see, smell, taste, or feel. No, it was in real life women that you can hear, see, smell, taste, and feel. And what I felt was nurturing, affectionate, accepting, and understanding. Only women have the healing touch, although not every woman has it, and as an orphaned Autistic, I had lots of times I needed a healing touch. So be true to yourself, a real life woman, to your own nature and your daughter will do very well in the end. The only other thing I can tell you is to not judge her. She isn’t retarded or crazy or handicapped or strange (all things I’ve been called before), she is just different in more ways than you can imagine. Treat her different, not crazy.
Andrew – Thank you for such a wonderful message. “Treat her different, not crazy.” I will do as you suggest. And by the way, I am very happy to hear there were kind women in your life! 🙂
Hi Ariane I was wondering if you or Richard had any advice for a wanna-be-author. I have long thought about writing a book about my challenges with having Aspergers and hopefully will have a fringe show coming out this summer. Any advice would be extremely appreciated.
The only advice worth giving any writer is:
A) write what you know
B) write what you want (unless what you want is something you don’t know, in which case you’ve got some research and/or living to do)
C) write (which may sound simplistic, but it’s amazing how many people say they want to write and yet can’t seem to find time to do just that…. write.
Now go write! Hope this helps and thanks for reaching out. It’s nice to meet you Adam. 🙂
I came across your name after viewing the Katie Show website (I don’t watch much tv, but someone told me to check it out because it mentioned autism). I am a mother of 3 – I am autistic as are 2 of my children. In your blog on the Katie Show site, you mentioned how important it is to hear from people who are actually autistic… Thank you for that!!! You also mention that you follow blogs of autistic people, I hope you’ll view mine. It is very positive and celebrates the gifts of autism: srsalas.com
which, when I see/read what’s out there is a point-of-view that is very hard to come by.
I am an author (just published 1st book with a 2nd in the works), public speaker (very new to it all) and advocate. Should you decide to contact me, I very much look forward to hearing from you!
BTW… it is not necessary to post this comment, I really wanted to contact you and did not know how else to do so.
I just read your article from last year “Debunking the Theory of Mind” (at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ariane-zurcher/autism-theory_b_1594706.html)
While I think it is a fine article for pointing out the weaknesses in the study cited by Simon Baron-Cohen’s, and a fine article about autism, I do have a criticism to make.
I am aware that it is Baron-Cohen, not you, who states that people with borderline personality disorder lack empathy. Unfortunately in your article you perpetuate this idea by not actively dispelling it (unlike the way you actively dispel the idea of a lack of empathy in people with autism). Empathy is a complicated and confusing topic, as it involves both an internal processing and an external behavioral response.
There is evidence to suggest that people with borderline personality disorder are suffering from an “emotional overwhelment” similar to what you describe in your daughter. Please read this article if you have a chance: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-the-border/200907/borderline-empathy-revisited
Hi A. Blake,
Thanks for pointing that out and for the link. I know next to nothing about borderline personality disorder; I found the article fascinating as it does not describe my daughter, it certainly describes another family member. And yes, I can see how those who are given this diagnosis would not appreciate being portrayed as lacking empathy.
Hi, my name is Candi. I’m 21 years old and I have Autism. I read your blog everyday. I enjoy reading it. Thanks for sharing you’re journey with Emma,
Thank you so much Candi, so appreciate you reaching out to say this. 😀
Hi Ariane, I am a retired FDNY Firefighter and the developer of Lymphpractic in Scottsdale, AZ. 10 years ago I realized missed science about the lymphatic system is not allowing us to see how lipofuscin and other cell material is congesting the brain of those with ASD. I have tried for 10 years to get the medical system and gov’t to look at this missed science. NIH agrees with me that the lymphatic system is missed in medicine. Dr. Oz says the lymphatic system is ignored in medicine. I know this to be true, at great costs to our health. I realize the medical system won’t integrate this science for decades. I am trying a new course to educate the public about the lymphatic system and a missed lymph-brain connection. Not understanding how the lymphatic system helps to clean the brain is hurting many people with depression, anxiety, insomnia but it is especially hurting children with autism. My goal is to educate other bloggers and authors with children with autism and hope to start a campaign to educate others on a missed brain-connection that may help their children. I am also hoping to gain more information from those I contact on what therapies they have tried.
A little more about me:
The lymphatic system is connected to every system in the body and plays a role in most health problems. That is also why those with ASD can also have digestive, skin and other health problems.This is one reason I don’t concentrate on writing on autism alone. I write on every health problem but understand how my missed science if understood by Mom’s to be and obstetricians could slow the steady rise of children with autism.
It would be great if we could email.
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My name is Candi. I’ve written on your blog a few times just recently. I just thought I would introduce myself. I’m 21 years old, and I have moderate Autism. I was non-verbal till the age of 7. I still struggle with spoken language. I do MUCH better with written communication (typing). Most of my life people thought I was mentally challenged, but when I was 14 I took an IQ test and scored in the profoundly gifted range. I’m very good at Math, and I’m actually a college student at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Physics and Astronomy. I know everything about Astronomy. Most of my conversations revolve around it. I have a lot in common with Emma, mostly because all my life I’ve carried around a piece of string, and I use a lot of scripting.
Candi – I want you to know how much I appreciated receiving this from you. Not just because you and my daughter share a love of string (!), but because hearing from you made me so very happy. Happy to know you are here in the world. Happy because you reached out. Happy because you see similarities between yourself and Em, happy because you told me a little about yourself, happy you’ve found the thing you love. (One of my brothers is an astro-physicist!)
Thank you again for saying hello. *Waves hi!*
I have recently started following your blog, and am truly moved by your words and more so by the dynamic strength that you share. My name is Clara, I do not have an autistic child or immediate family member, and I do not have an experience to share; I am an outsider looking in, wanting to help create awareness and hopefully help some people along the way.
I live in Dubai, and to be frank, there is a large population of “special needs” individuals here, which I prefer to address in a new term I have recently heard “additional needs”. It is not like the Western world here, to put it mildly, it would be like stepping a long way back in time, very secretive and sheltered. There are minimal support systems in place, and until recently, no willingness to learn and understand. We do have a significant Autism Foundation in scope of things, but very little for other needs.
I am telling you this because I want to make a difference, maybe it won’t be a huge difference, but even opening one person’s eyes to understanding or communicating with their loved one would be an accomplishment. Giving a sense of belonging and hope.
So here is my mission: I am currently working on a book where I am collecting stories from people who live with additional needs in their lives. This could be family members, caregivers, friends, teachers, and individuals who themselves have some form of additional need. I want these stories to be honest, enlightening, and inspirational. To show people a snapshot of a special life. I am looking for stories globally and want to use this book to help generate understanding especially in this part of the world.
Once the book is published, I am planning to open and Art Therapy Centre for Additional Needs here in Dubai, and help bring what seems to be a small fractured community together. This however, requires another long explanation which I will share another time perhaps.
If you ask why I am doing this, my answer would have to be: Because I can and I should, I don’t really know why. I wanted to do something creative with kids, looking for a need in the community, and I discovered this is the most under appreciated and unrecognized need. I started doing some research and realized this was not theirs as much as it is mine. I am completely compelled and driven it is all I think about.
II left my job, started a small business (which is no easy task here, and making no money) to be able to set up events and programs to reach this community. I started working on this last year, however, life being what it is, have had some setbacks and am now trying to get it going full force. It is also difficult because it is such a sensitive issue here and I have to tread very carefully.
I am telling you this very verbose story because I would like to ask you to share a story or allow me to use one of your blogposts in my book. I also would like ask your followers if they would like to share a story. Each person who does will get a copy of the book and whatever else I can do. I do have a website, which I am now getting back to and there is not much on it only my first blog (which I am also new to). Please take a look, keeping in mind I am new to this and welcome any and all feedback.
What an interesting project. When you have something for me to look at, please send my way. I am happy to contribute. Do you have a publisher? If so who? If not how are you planning to publish?
Thanks again for reaching out to me!
Hi Ariane, thank you for your response. I will definitely keep you posted on how things are going. We don’t have a publisher yet, however, there may be someone who is interested in funding it, so am working through all that stuff. I am in the process of compiling and getting my book plan together and will then share what I have.
Thanks again, I look forward to chatting again soon.
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I am a brain injury survivor,writer, blogger, and speaker from Ponoka Alberta Canada. I have written a book called They Said,” I Couldn’t”. I am trying to get connected to brain injury and disability organizations to share my story. Thank you for sharing your story. Tylor Stingel
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog the other day. I think you are my first and only reader so far! Emma’s Hope Book is the main autism-related blog I follow and your words really resonate with me. Thank you.
(aka The Southville Optimist)
I love reading your blog and following your family’s journey.
I worked in a classroom with Emma years ago, and reading her words is a real pleasure. Thank you, and Emma, for sharing!
I am currently working on a research project that hopes to assist professionals in their ability to make informed treatment recommendations to parents and families who have recently received an autism diagnosis. My hypothesis is that professionals who understand the beliefs/values and goals of the family will a) make better treatment recommendations that are in line with the family beliefs, and b) those treatments will improve child and family well being.
This hypothesis may seem a bit obvious, but it is distinct from the popular belief among professionals that children with an autism diagnosis should be recommended ABA.
Could you be available to consult with me on this project? If not, perhaps you could connect me to some parents who may be interested.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Hi Meghan, I would be happy to. I’ll shoot you an email now…
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I came across your blog after finding your interview on HuffPo about intermittent speech. It was so perfect and I’ve sent it to some of my loved ones as you explain it so much better than I.
I look forward to reading your blog.
Ariane — I just wanted to reach out to you and your family and particularly Emma. I’ve been with an ASD man for nearly twenty years. In the past two months our lives have been turned upside-down by the discovery of the neurodiversity and, I may say, this blog. Tears.
Emma, thank you for speaking the beauty of your heart and your incredible mind. You have so much to teach the world. Thank you. We love you.
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Hello! I recently am a ABA technician and I completely agree with you. This has opened up my eyes and reassured me that my negative feelings about this therapy are right. I tried to push them aside and tell myself that this therapy will help the child in the end. But I just been thinking more and more that rather than normalizing the child, I should be helping others understand them and helping them find ways to relieve stress that is induced from social interactions, eye contact, etc. Like helping a “NT” person feel better when they face anxiety. Needless to say you have helped me make the final decision to focus on a different field of helping people!
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