When my daughter, Emma was diagnosed with autism I threw myself into research the way a starving man forages for scraps. I describe it this way, because the degree of desperation I felt was acute, and at the time, I viewed autism as “life-threatening”. It saddens me now, looking back, that the information we were given regarding autism and what that supposedly meant, for not only our daughter, but for all of us, has not changed dramatically. How many parents to newly diagnosed children will feel what I once felt? How many parents will go home and throw themselves into the monumental task of educating themselves about autism and will read similar stories as I once did? How many parents will believe that “recovery” from Autism is a concrete and noble goal for their child? How many parents will fall into line pursuing any number of dubious treatments all in the name of “saving” their child? Because I can tell you, that pursuit, that mind-set of desperately seeking “recovery” from Autism is a dangerous mirage.
About a year and a half into my “research” my husband, Richard came to me and expressed his concern, not for Emma, though he absolutely loves both our children and feels concern for their well-being, not for her diagnosis, not for anything we were or weren’t doing, no, he expressed concern for me. I remember the feeling of rage that welled up inside of me. I remember thinking that I hated him for voicing his thoughts. I remember my outrage and indignation. I remember. All because he dared to suggest, “You have to find something that has nothing to do with autism.” Did he not understand that I was saving our daughter’s life?! Could he not see that I was single-handedly engaged in a battle? While he stood there looking at me with love and worry, I fumed. I no longer remember the words exchanged, I can’t remember our exact conversation, but I remember the gist of it. I remember how pained he looked when I angrily attacked him, suggesting that were it not for me, our child would be thrown under the proverbial bus.
But my husband is not easily pushed aside. My husband is a tough negotiator, a dogged persuader, a pit bull in a junk yard, he can go up against the best of them and still come out standing. In other words, I didn’t have a chance in hell. Still I put up a good fight. Richard, not to be undone by my hurling insults, stood firm. You see he understood something I didn’t. He saw what I was doing and he could see what it was doing to me, even if I couldn’t. “You’re depressed,” he said. I glared at him. “You can’t even see it.” How do you argue with that? How can you counter unawareness? You can’t. But Richard loves me and kept trying to get through and even though I didn’t understand and didn’t agree with what he was saying I could hear the love in his voice. I could feel his words.
As a direct result of that difficult conversation I began taking classes in jewelry making. I’d gone to Parsons School of Design, majoring in Fashion Design, knew before I’d even graduated with my bachelors degree that fashion design was not for me, and worried that jewelry was too similar, but I was wrong. There is something about working with metal, carving a wax model, sketching a new design, figuring out how something will hang or how a clasp will function and yet add an artistry to the piece, that transports me. When I am working, time becomes meaningless, the world, worries and fears move into a corner. When I am designing and making jewelry it is as though I am in another dimension. A magical place where it is just me and my work, there are no words, my emotions become the work, they are embedded in the design. Art does not intersect life as much as it becomes life.
I found a studio. I began to create…
After awhile I began selling my work. My ‘jewelry‘ (click ‘jewelry’ for Ariane Zurcher Jewelry website) began getting noticed, I won some awards, and suddenly two years after having that conversation with my husband, I had a business. In 2010 I began a blog ~ click ‘Emma’s Hope Book‘ ~ where I write about autism, my daughter and the hope she gives me for this world and all the people in it.
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I’d love to hear from all of you ~ what inspires you?