One of Emma’s top five favorite IMAX movies is, Born to Be Wild about orphaned orangutans and elephants and the people who rescue and nurture them until they can go out on their own to live independently in the wild. It’s a beautiful film and during the watching of it, Emma did a running narrative, which was both amazing and insightful because the things she noticed and talked about were not necessarily the things I noticed. Her observations were all about identifying with the baby orphaned animals and not about the humans who have saved their lives. This is as it should be, it seems to me.
She was identifying with the small animals, whose lives are dependent upon the human adults to care for them, respect them, nurture them while they are still so vulnerable and young. I, however, identified with the adults who are feeding, caring for, giving bottles to, making comfortable sleeping areas for, while being careful to not “tame”, so they will one day be able to return to the wild. I was so relieved to see the human caretakers encouraging the babies to build their innate skills by taking them to places where they could strengthen and build their climbing abilities and offering them materials to make nests or giving them the opportunity to interact with older orphans who would soon be venturing out on their own.
It was impossible for me, as a parent, to view this movie and not see the connections to parenting. How we try hard to manage that balancing act of encouraging our children to do for themselves, only intervening when absolutely necessary, trying hard to not over identify, to honor and respect our children and not think of them as reflections of ourselves. Watch for their innate talents and foster and encourage them, join them in their interests instead of trying to foist our interests upon them. Respect them enough to allow them to make mistakes, encourage them to dare to dream big, and give them the opportunity to flourish without criticism, but with love and guidance. In the end, we all want that from each other. We all want to feel loved and to love. We all want to be seen and heard. We all want to feel we are approved of. We need that. Children, adults, living beings, we all want to feel we matter.
Most of you have probably read Jim Sinclair’s famous essay Don’t Mourn For Us. If you haven’t, do. In the Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking Anthology a version of that essay comes after Julia Bascom’s wonderful Foreword. By the way, if you didn’t see the Huffington Post interview I did with Julia regarding the anthology and future projects, you can read that by clicking ‘here‘ and I’ve also embedded a link so those of you who haven’t read the Anthology can buy it and read, because.. well this book needs to be read by every person on this earth AND it’s now available in paperback as well as on Kindle, so who can resist? Here’s the “link” (again) to buy it. Full disclosure – I bought this book for a number of my family members and gave it as a Christmas gift!
I read the anthology as a PDF file first, then I read it again in paperback and now I’m rereading it with my highlighter in hand. There is not a single essay that has not been streaked with neon green highlighter. The anthology has contributions from a wide range of people (a few of my favorite writers are missing, but I am hoping this anthology will be followed with a second that will include writing from E. of The Third Glance (not to be confused with “E.” who is in the current anthology), Aspie Kid, Michael Scott Monje Jr and Sparrow Rose Jones to name just a few.) It’s not the type of book you can really quote from as each piece needs to be read in its entirety to get the full weight and power of it.
Having said that, I have to quote Jim Sinclair and hope that all of you will get the book and read it from cover to cover. Jim wrote, “The ways we relate are different. Push for the things your expectations tell you are normal, and you’ll find frustration, disappointment, resentment, maybe even rage and hatred. Approach respectfully, without preconceptions, and with openness to learning new things, and you’ll find a world you could never have imagined.” “… you’ll find a world you could never have imagined.” This has been my experience, exactly. I think I’ve even said something close to this before. I believe I’ve said finding Autistic voices and reading their words was like being presented with proof that another universe exists, but that I never knew about. So for all of you who need or want proof that another universe, a more wondrous and fantastic universe than is imaginable, read the Anthology and be prepared to have your world changed in the best possible way!
One of Emma’s favorite Imax movies is about the Hubble Space Craft found to have a faulty lens and requires repair. Once fixed, it produces absolutely hallucinogenic images of the universe that are so beautiful it is hard to believe they are real. To me, autism is like those images, beyond anything I could have imagined.
Images taken from Hubble Space Craft
Upon returning home the other evening, we were told Emma had become dysregulated because her favorite imax movie about the Hubble Space Telescope wouldn’t play. This is the self-portrait she drew, unaided.
The note along with this self-portrait said:
“Emma is sad. They want to turn it on. Mommy, I need help turning on Hubble Imax theatre.”
This is the first “self-portrait” Emma has ever made for us.
Do you see the tears? The eyes? The downturned smile? And then there are the Obama-like ears, which made me smile, and the hands! God I love those hands that she drew, like rakes. I stood in the kitchen staring at this drawing, this drawing drawn by my amazing little girl who was feeling so, so sad and I felt tears well up. I felt that constriction in your throat that only comes when you are about to cry and I felt proud. So, so proud of her for drawing this despite her sadness. My heart ached for her sadness and at the same time I felt awe. Awe in Emma. Awe in this world and all of it’s inhabitants and how little we really know or understand. I felt humbled by the enormity of those feelings and by her. My little girl. My beautiful, expressive daughter. My Emma. This child that I have been so fortunate to have enter my life. This child who has taught me to see beyond what I believe is real, to strive to understand what I cannot, to push past my fears, to be present in a way that I never knew was possible. This child… this unique and stunning child.
It is yet another example of the incredible life I find myself inhabiting. It is a life and world filled with beauty and appreciation. It is an enviable life. An inspired life. A life I would not trade for anyone’s.
To read my most recent Huffington Post, click ‘here.’
To read my guest post on Special Needs.com, click ‘here‘
Posted in art, Autism, Parenting
Tagged art, Autism, autistic, awe, emotions, imax, imax Hubble, life, sadness, self-portrait