19 April 2011

nothing to see here

You could probably say that I asked for it when I wrote these words to Emma.

Tomorrow starts Autism Awareness Month. And of course I want people to know all about you and what autism means in our lives -- the challenges you face, the resources you need, the ways you're the same as any other 5-year-old. 

I wasn't expecting a phone call the day after that post was written, asking me to do a television interview about autism awareness and what it means, to me and to Emma and to the entire local autism community, to have ABA centers coming to the area.

"So we'd like to interview you!" the reporter said.

"On camera?" I asked stupidly, knowing she was going to answer in the affirmative and fruitlessly wishing otherwise.

Oh, how I wanted to say no. Anyone who knows me at all knows how shy I am, that I would rather shove the spotlight in any other direction than have it on me.

That was the thing, though - they weren't asking to put it on me. They wanted to talk about autism and Emma. They wanted to make people aware. And I'd just written that I wanted to do the very same thing.

So I said yes, and then I sent several panicky text messages, ranging from "Cameras are coming to my house. Help!" to "I'm not sure what just happened, but I think I'm going to be on TV."

And so I was, stammering and fumbling my way through the reporter's questions, wishing I could have written out my own script beforehand, watching Emma dart in and out of the room while I shoved a cat off my shoulder. (Yes, that really happened, and it was fortunately edited out ... unlike the part where I mixed up the centers' names. I'm not being modest when I say I'm a terrible public speaker.)

I was really grateful to have the opportunity to be a (somewhat trembling) voice for autism. And I was also really, really grateful when the reporter left my home and took her camera with her.

But more than that, I'm glad there was a reason to do the interview at all, that there are now two centers in the community providing ABA therapy. I'd like nothing better to see Emma enrolled at one very, very soon. Maybe when the months of hoop-jumping that have been required to make that happen pay off, I can share the good news.

Here's hoping.

06 April 2011

this life is a beautiful one

 (Originally posted on Mar. 18, 2009, about three months before Emma's diagnosis)

It was a beautiful day here yesterday, so after supper, Emma and I walked to the park in our neighborhood. Emma made a beeline for the slide, and as she haltingly climbed the steps, a smiling face appeared beside her.

"Hi!" chirped the little girl, who looked to be a few years older than Em. "Hi! Do you want to play with me? Do you want to slide?"

Em being Em, she gave the newcomer a distracted smile and kept climbing. The girl looked to me, and I nodded. So as Em climbed, the girl darted ahead and bounced with excitement. She helped Em sit down, and the next thing I knew, they were both coming down the slide. Headfirst.

Emma was laughing; her smile was radiant. She and her new friend-- whose name I never got-- went down this slide a few times, and then the older girl's eyes went to the bigger slide. The twisting, curling slide, with 10 steps instead of 5.

"Emma, Emma! Do you want to go on the big slide?"

I bit my lip. "Well ... okay. We can try."

And so the older girl darted up the stairs, and Em painstakingly started to climb, with me right behind her. She neared the top-- after a mere 17 reminders to keep both hands on the rails-- and I congratulated her.

"Emma! You did it!"

Her new friend looked at me archly and reached out a hand to help Emma up. "Of course she did. She's a big girl."

Of course she did.