Tag Archives: story telling

Experiencing Without Words

Over the weekend we played a story telling game.  The round robin story telling was an idea Emma came up with during an RPM session she had a few weeks ago and it seemed like a great idea for a rainy Sunday morning.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t get everyone’s permission to print our story here.)  Suffice it to say, it involved rain, a family made up of two parents, a girl, a boy, and a tornado carrying a herd of walrus.

Emma began the story with one sentence, then each person added a sentence and we continued going around in a circle.  Emma spelled out her sentences by pointing to letters on her laminated letter board, my husband and son said their sentences out loud while I transcribed what they said, but when it was my turn, I found it very difficult to think of what to add out loud, and so I wrote my sentence down first and then read it to the group.

After each person’s contribution there was much laughter and ad-libbing.  At one point Richard, who, it must be said, couldn’t help himself, constructed perhaps the longest, and wonderfully, creative run-on sentence every spoken.  He did look a bit sheepish afterwards, but the story moved along until it was Emma’s turn again, where upon she said, “All done.  No.  You have to work!”  Her comment reminded me that for Emma this “game” that was intended as fun, was “work” for her.  As no one else was viewing it as work we stopped after the fourth go around, at which point Emma raced off.

I think a great deal about how hard it is for Emma to communicate, whether that is through spoken language or writing; they are both hard.  This surprises many people who assume, as did I, at least in the beginning, that someone who cannot rely on spoken language to communicate, would be more than a little relieved to finally find a way to express themselves by writing instead.  However Emma has told me on several occasions that while she is relieved that people finally can understand her when she writes, it is also very, very difficult for her.

Emma recently described writing as, “It’s too hard work,” but it’s easier for the rest of us, particularly as it tends to be more accurate of her thinking than her spoken language.  Not long ago Emma wrote, “I can’t talk the way I think.”   But it would be a mistake to then assume writing is easy or that she eagerly does it.  And I was reminded of all of this when it was my turn to come up with a sentence for the story.  I couldn’t come up with a sentence through spoken language, but had to write it down first.  What if everyone had insisted that I say my sentence out loud, what if someone had said that it was against the rules to write the sentence down first?

I can tell you it would have been much more difficult for me, though it still would have been fun.  But what if I experienced the world in other ways and not with words?  What if my experience of people and things was not through pictures, words or anything that can even be described with words?  Wouldn’t both written and spoken language through the use of words be equally difficult for me?  What if my experience of the world was completely different and having to translate this experience into words was actually impossible?  What if so much was lost in the translation that it no longer represented my experience?  What then?

Em with her string

Em with her string

“Crayons Have Feelings” By Emma

I’m always so excited when Emma tells me “put it on the blog” because my dream has been that this blog will be something she wants to, one day, take over as her own and where she will permit me to, occasionally, make a “guest” appearance.

What follows was Emma’s response during her RPM session to write about something she cares about in a persuasive manner.  She skillfully demonstrates theory of mind, empathy and an abundance of compassion I wish the rest of the world would try to emulate.

                     “Crayons Have Feelings

“The colors are many in a box of crayons.  All over the world people use crayons to make them happier.  It is never used as a way to punish.

“Did you ever think of what the box of crayons felt like when they were opened?

“Notice which colors are used the most.  They are ripped and sometimes broken.  The less popular colors, like brown, look so new they can be displayed in a museum.  Nobody plays with them.  They watch the other colors play and roll with their friends in the mud.

“Brown crayons are lonely.  Red crayons get the most attention.

“You should show the lonely colors on the front of the box.

“Do you have questions?”

I am persuaded,  Emma.

A Box of Crayons

A Box of Crayons

Henry & Emma’s Story

Yesterday Emma and I spent time with our friends Lauri and her son Henry.   Lauri has a wonderful blog, Ollibean, which is a model of  inclusion and what that really means.  Recent posts include Judy Endow’s How to Figure Out if an Autistic Needs Fixing, Amy Sequenzia’s Walk in my Shoes, and Henry Frost’s All the People Saw my Intelligence.

About a year and a half ago I interviewed Henry regarding his wish to be allowed to go to his local school.  Because Henry cannot speak and is Autistic, he was denied that right.  That interview was published on The Huffington Post ‘here‘.  And a follow-up post ‘here‘ because the piece went viral.  I also wrote about staying with Lauri and her family last spring ‘here‘, which was also when Emma and Henry became friends.

Henry and Emma wrote this story together, taking turns writing a sentence by pointing to letters on an alphabet board.  Henry is “H” and Emma is “E”.  (I know … that’s probably pretty obvious…)  Afterwards Henry and Emma gave me permission to publish their story here.

H:  Once a man went to the king.

E:  He had a complaint against his horse.

H:  His horse would not carry him any more.

E:  His horse wanted five dollars each ride.

H:  The king asked him to sell the horse.

E:  The horse said it is not a slave.

H:  The king asked the horse its price.

E:  The horse said it needs a million dollars.

H:  Finally the king gave two options to the horse.

E:  First was – fight a lion.

H:  Second is –  serve this man.

E:  Choose between the two.

H:  Question is – what will he choose?

E:  The End

Henry & Emma ~ January 30, 2014

Henry & Emma ~ January 30, 2014

Man and Woman – A Tale

This story was written by Emma and was inspired by a photograph she was shown of a small house built in the middle of a lake atop a large rock with steps carved into the rock leading into the water.  Against one side of the house was a kayak and paddle.  (To read more about how Emma is writing, please click, ‘here‘ and ‘here‘.)

“Man and woman landed into marriage.  Both worked hard to make thousands of pennies.  There was trouble when they decided on what to do with the thousands.  Woman wanted to buy a boat; man did not agree.  Man and woman gave fighting a try, but it was not for them.

Welcome to their new home.”

Earlier when first shown the photograph (I’ve posted it below) and asked to make a comment about it, Emma wrote, “There is many reasons to believe it is fall.”

When asked to write one question she thought people would ask the person(s) who live in this house, she wrote, “Do you know how to swim?”