Tag Archives: abilities

“Let’s Talk About Communication Abilities”

*As always Emma gave me permission to post this.  Emma typed her words by independently pointing to the letters on a bluetooth qwerty keyboard attached to her iPad.

This morning I asked Emma what she wanted to talk about.  She wrote, “How about we talk about communication abilities.”

A:  “Okay, that’s a great idea!”

E:  “Especially for someone like me.”

A:  “Yes, tell me more.”

E:  I am able to communicate really well with words, but people don’t expect me to, so when they see me typing, they eagerly watch, but they don’t listen to what I write as much as they listen to the words tumbling from my mouth.”

A:  “I think that’s such an amazing observation!”

E:  “Know that believing in someone’s ability will be greeted with inward smiles, so you must never give the doubts breathing space.”

We talked about “ability” and the power of believing in both oneself and another versus doubting.

E:  “Many insist on finding proof, but when sitting with someone like me they only see the things I do that confirm what they already believe and turn their backs on all that would prove them wrong.”

A:  “Is there anything or anyone specific you’re referring to?”

E: “It is what I have experienced, sadly.”

I told Emma how sorry I was.  We talked about this more and then I said, “I think your words really do affect many people who are listening and as a result are changing how they see their child.  Even if only a few people listen, it’s worth repeating, don’t you think?

E:  “Some that change their views, teach others well.”

A:  Yes, I think so too.  Many people have reached out to us on Facebook and on the blog to tell us.  It’s always so wonderful when we hear from them.

E:  “Now we must remain patient and doggedly trudge ahead.”

I told Emma, she was leading the way and I would always follow.

E:  “Together we will eagerly tether our ideas, so having happy thoughts will woo anger.”

Ariane and Em ~ May 2014

Ariane and Emma ~ May 2014

Sliver Abilities in Autism

The other day while waiting for Emma’s bus we sat together.  Emma recounted, as she often does, what she planned to do that day and what she looked forward to in the days ahead.  “Get on school bus, Becky’s class, Joe, see Mommy, sleep, wake up, sleep, wake up, sleep wake up, sleep, wake up, Throwback Sports, sleep, wake up, make pancakes!”

Our neighbor took this photograph of me and Em waiting for her school bus.

I’m always astonished that Emma almost always gets the right number of “sleep, wake ups” before she can have pancakes on the weekend.  I have even seen her count on her fingers, making me wonder whether we shouldn’t start implementing a math program – if I can find one – as it’s clear she is counting and figuring out how many times she’ll sleep and then wake up before Saturday morning.

Much has been said about autism and “sliver” abilities, the sorts of things autistic children seem to be able to do at age level or above while most other things lag far behind.  I am not referring to the much publicized, but rare, savants.  I’m talking about the abilities many autistic children have that surprise us, their parents.  In Emma’s case it is her unbelievably accurate memory for people, places and things.  She will talk about a preschool teacher she had when she was three and she has an uncanny ability to know when a favored object or photograph is missing.  She seems to know immediately that not only a photograph is missing, but she knows which one with a glance at the pile of over 200 photographs.  I have no idea how this is even possible.

“Carousel photo?”  Emma will cry.

“But Em, here’s the photo.  Look!  There’s you and…”

“No!  Other one!” She’ll cry in frustration.

We no longer doubt her.  I cannot remember Emma ever being wrong about a missing photograph from her box of photos.  She keeps them in a box the size of a shoe box and there are over two hundred photographs.

I am constantly amazed with Emma’s mind.  It can retain massive amounts of information and yet I still must remind her that she needs to dry her body off when she gets out of the shower.
“Okay, Em.  Now get a towel.  You have to dry your arms and legs.  Now dry your stomach and back,” I will say.

What has become clear to me is that Emma’s mind is not something I can predict.  I cannot assume she will know how to do something – rinse her hair after she puts shampoo in it – while at the same time I cannot not assume anything either.

“Mona Lisa!”  Emma said, pointing to a book with the portrait of the Mona Lisa on the cover.

“Yeah, Em.  That’s right.  Who painted it?”

“Leonardo,” Emma answered happily.

“What’s his last name?” I asked.

“Vincy” She said.

“That’s right Em.  His name was Leonardo Da Vinci.”

When we were at MOMA a few years ago, Emma astonished all of us when she pointed to a painting and said, “Picasso!  Man with Guitar.”

Just around the time Emma was diagnosed I showed Emma a book on famous painters and their paintings.  Over six years later she still could remember them.

For more on Emma’s “splinter abilities” and her journey through a childhood of autism go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com