My entire routine has been so thoroughly disrupted these past three weeks that this blog has suffered the consequences. There’s simply too much going on, not in a bad way necessarily, but more than I have been able to keep up with. But today… Today both kids are out skiing and I have a few hours to write.
Emma has been writing a great deal. In fact Emma wrote three stories as Christmas presents to her granma, her Uncle and Aunt and her dad. Each one is beautiful and poignant and kind of over the top amazing in its complexity and layered meaning. I transcribed the one for her granma ‘here‘. In the story to her Uncle and Aunt, the final sentence was, “No words need to be used to hear love.” Think about that for a second… This kind of insight shows a level of sophistication and poetic understanding of the world few adults have managed to appreciate, let alone, express. Emma is eleven years old.
In the story for her dad she wrote about a daughter who, “Daily she tried to communicate her love for her family, but her words came out of her mouth wrong. In day after day conversation she was misunderstood. Finally she began to write on a stencil board and the words came out right.” I am quoting this here because this is exactly the sort of thing so many of us get hung up on. How many times have we seen or heard parents talk about their distress because their child is not able to say those three words, “I love you”? How many times did I once, not so long ago, lament that my child had not ever said those words without being prompted to? How often did I wonder and question her love? And now… now I wonder why and how could I have ever questioned those feelings? How was it possible that I ever doubted her? I say this lovingly and with tremendous compassion for all who have ever wondered this about their child. We are being given incorrect information about autism and our children. But I wonder if I would be so certain if my daughter were not writing and telling me the things that she is.
As I’ve stated before, writing is hard work for Emma and even though all of us, who receive her words, feel incredibly grateful to read anything she writes, it is difficult for Emma to express herself even in writing. I say this as much as a reminder to myself as to inform those who may not fully appreciate how hard it is for her. Often, when people hear that Emma is writing, and writing some pretty profound insights about the world, herself and autism, they will say, “but why not just give her an iPad or let her write on a computer?” And then I must try to find the best words to explain. It isn’t that easy or that simple, if it were, she would have begun writing a long time ago.
I’ve described before the process ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ that Emma uses to write, one letter pointed to at a time, on a stencil board, while a trusted person transcribes each letter or word one by one. I have worked with Emma since the end of September almost daily and am now one of the people she can and does write with, to express herself. She is incredibly generous in her willingness to allow me to quote her and almost always gives me permission to quote her on this blog, something I am doing more and more frequently!
This morning I talked to her about skiing with a ski pro, asking whether she’d like me to ski too. She told me she preferred that I did not come too, and when I asked what, if anything, she wanted me to tell the ski instructor, she wrote about how she wanted to eat lunch early and then wrote, “Have to understand my mind talks heavy thoughts, but my mouth talks silliness.” I asked her what she advised and she wrote, “Try to be patient and do not over rate talking to each other.”
A message we talkers would do well to appreciate and try our best to implement.
Emma’s Eyes ~ A Self Portrait