the emilies



People constantly ask why I do this. Why I drag my butt out of bed at this ungodly hour every morning and write my little stories.

I do it selfishly, of course. I do it because I know that if I do, I will have a record of all the moments – good and bad – that would otherwise fade from memory. I will have a running marker of progress – a reminder of how far we’ve come. And a gift to my girls when someday we’re all ready to tackle it together. A chronicle of their childhoods.

I do it for the sense of community. I do it because when I tell you that you’re not alone, it’s undeniable that I’m not either.

I do it for the conversation. For the support. For the love that flows here for my girls, for each other, and for all of our children. For the ideas and suggestions, the fervent prayers and the raucous celebrations.

And those would be reasons enough.

But there’s something else.

There’s the possibility, no matter how slim, that my little stories might reach the Emilies.

The following is a note from a woman I’ve never met in person, but whom, thanks to years of online dialogue, I’d be quick to call a friend.

Her name is Emily.




I just wanted to tell you thank you for teaching me…and since I don’t know the rest of your community, I will tell you. I was at Trader Joes today. There were huge lines at the checkout and I saw a mom with a boy about 13-14 who was wearing headphones and who after reading so many stories I knew was as you say “one of ours” but I felt like he was one of mine and so was his momma.

At any rate, all that you write and say and all that your friends write and say gave me (a shy person by nature) the ability to go up to her and offer to let her get in front of me if it would be easier for her to get out of the hectic store quickly. She thanked me and said sometimes it would be but right now we are in a good place so no thank you.

I wouldn’t have done it before you. I would have thought about it, but wouldn’t have wanted to intrude. So thank you for that.





And now I’m crying. Thank YOU.



Please don’t feel pressured — TRULY — but would you be willing to allow me to share this?




if it makes one other person step out of their comfort zone to try and help someone else by all means…ripples right?



oh for heaven’s sake, now you’re just showing off.


love you girl.


I write because I am convinced that the world is full of Emilies. Of people who — if they knew, if they recognized what they saw — would ask the question.

So I get up.

Every morning.

And write.

Knowing that they’re out there.

Knowing that the more we talk, the more Emilies we will reach.

And the more the world will change for our kids.

One grocery line at a time.


Thank you, Em.Ā 


18 thoughts on “the emilies

  1. Good morning from a fellow early riser!
    I’m right here with you trying to do the same! You do good work and good work makes a difference, even if you don’t directly see the results. Coffee’s finished, time to compose.
    Have a good day!

  2. You teach Emilies and you teach me. You are were I get so much of my understanding about my own daughter and autism and what is “normal” behavior for them. I’d be lost without you. Thank you! ā¤

  3. Jess, I haven’t had a chance to comment, but I’ve been reading your posts as always.
    I’m glad you (we) are touching people. It makes me feel so good to know even just ONE more person out there is understanding, and acting with compassion.
    Thank you Emily. And thank you Jess for getting up early to share the story every morning. Selfish reasons or no, you have brought a sense of community to those in desperate need of it.

  4. I need to thank you too. Just for being who you are and for sharing your corner of the ASD world with me.

    Now that my son is almost an adult it’s obvious to anybody that he is “special needs”, but when he was very young I would often be given odd looks – sometimes even dirty looks – because people believed that I was simply not being a decent mother and was allowing him to run wild and behave however he wished. They thought I was stressed becauase I “didn’t have a clue” and had no idea of what I was facing every single day with no let-up in between.

    I wish that there had been the online tools back then for the likes of you and I to share our stories, spread awareness and change the world, even if by only a little.

    Thank you Jess. For everything you do.

    Gemma x

  5. Jess,
    Now you have me crying, what a wonderful way to start off my day. I am one of the mommies that needs people like Emily’s help at the store. Thank you for spreading awareness and love to all that will listen. my best, Bernadette

  6. God bless Emily and the “Emilies” of this world who HEAR us when we speak and FEEL us when we hurt for our children. The ones who aren’t afraid to ACT on their compassion.

  7. I think there’s a large population who want to understand and know how they can make a difference… this is so right on track and reaches so many šŸ™‚

  8. Love this, and all of your thoughtful posts that spread awareness, support, and understanding. You are an absolute rock star and one of my heroes- thank you for your dedication… ā¤ xo

  9. I totally agree! What a difference it makes for us and our kids when people can use this knowledge for acceptance and help. I was at the airport years ago with Hunter on a layover after a flight with a crying baby. He was losing it and eventually so was I at the thought of putting him on another flight home.. even thought about renting a car and driving cross-country rather than put him on that next flight. We chose an empty gate to wait and hopefully avoid the stares that followed us through the airport. After a little while a pilot approached us in uniform and offered Hunter a wings pin.. he leaned over to me and said “my nephew has autism”.. I can’t tell you how much that meant!! Special people like that make the world a much better place!

  10. You have indeed taught many of us, Jess. Even though I teach – and *usually* pick it up quickly in public…all of these kids are different, and I know I haven’t seen all of their quirks in my classroom yet…so I learn from you…new ones to watch for…new opportunities to share an understanding smile, or a word or two of encouragement with a stranger.
    I also read your posts to my man…a Schizophrenic, whom I love with every ounce of my being. We have found (through my work and your posts) the many MANY similarities between him and these wonderful kids. This post reminded me of an incident at a local “big box” store over the holidays. He will usually avoid going with me like the plague, but he wanted to pick some things out on his own this time. It was the night before Christmas…so needless to say, the place was FILLED with last-minute chaos and panic.
    We made it to the check out…and *thanks to you* HE noticed the little guy in line before I did (I was trying to make sure that HE was ok). He put his hand on my arm and whispered, “I’m going to go stand with this kid.”
    I looked…and there was a little guy with his fingers in his ears, terror in his eyes, feet tapping the floor, shoulders rocking, and on the verge of tears.
    He was staring at big man’s very colorful tattoos…using them as a point of focus. So, big man and little guy leaned together against a table…no words…just looks of understanding and smiles as little guy pointed out details on big man’s skin.
    I shared a smile with little guy’s mom, and she took a deep breath…and finished her very long transaction among the throngs of people that had almost sent her little boy over the edge.
    Thanks to you…my man wasn’t afraid to do what he thought might help. No matter how uncomfortable he is in a public situation, if he sees an uncomfortable kid…all of that goes out the window and he does what he can to help the situation.
    Thank you, Jess…for helping us all to be a ripple.

  11. That’s wonderful. That’s part of the reason I write, too. To spread that awareness in hopes that it will spread even just a little bit more compassion and understanding for special needs kids.

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