Ariane Zurcher, popular blogger and writer for the Huffington Post, along with her daughter Emma Zurcher-Long sat down to have a very intimate talk with the audience on Wednesday for Day 3 of the ICare4Autism International Autism Conference. Their presentation titled, My Body Does Not Obey My Mind, was actually Emma’s idea. She shared with the audience, through typing on her iPad the personal struggles she faces as a person on the spectrum. Ariane Zurcher explains how at first, her and her husband didn’t really understand Emma and her ability to express herself. All they were able to see was her childlike appearance accompanied by silly faces and uncoordinated movements. Whenever they would talk about Emma in front of her they never knew that she actually understood everything they were saying about her and was actually quite hurt from what she heard.
To demonstrate this concept to the audience, Emma would make some silly faces, including one of her favorites, which is doing “fish lips”. She types, “Doing fish lips to the audience is an expression of funny playfulness, but can be misinterpreted as simple-mindedness. Silliness is acceptable in those who are believed smart, but for those like me, it indicates stupidity.” When people come across an autistic child doing silly things or perhaps engaging in a calming activity such as stimming etc., they are quick to judge and perceive the child as slow or stupid, when in fact they just don’t have control over their bodies the way other children do and are able to understand situations and conversations as much as the next person.
Emma types, “In my mind, I am graceful and move like a dancer and speak with a passion and the articulation of an acting coach.” When it comes to autistic children there is always more that meets the eye. They have complex webs of thought and emotions that sometimes get expressed in a way that we don’t understand. Emma really opened a lot of eyes with her presentation and shed some much needed light on the thoughts and feelings of an autistic child. Hopefully many people left with new and inspired ideas of what it means to have an autistic child and how to perceive their actions, maybe not as stupidity but rather just a different form of complex expressions.
To read Ariane & Emma’s Blog, click HERE