Introducing Em

Today things change on this blog. As I have been slowly revealing more and more of myself to you here on the blog, I would like to continue to do so today by taking what knowledge you may already have about me and taking it into perspective. Today I’m explaining to you why I am who I am. It’s all because of a very special person in my life. So without further ado, allow me to introduce Em.I’ve put off writing this post for so long because I am creating huge expectations for myself as to what it will be. I have even told myself that this could very well be one of the most important things I ever write on this blog. Why? Because I am sharing with you a very important part of me. She is so important to me and so special, that I have been scared to write this afraid I still don’t have the skill to portray how wonderful she is in words, even though I know her better than anyone. She is my priceless puzzle piece, my extraordinarily unique, one of a kind sister. Her name is Emily and she is my world; She has shaped everything in it with her kind-hearted spirit and beautiful soul.

What makes her so special is much more than the fact that she has disabilities, but I feel special needs is a better phrase to describe her or anybody else like her.

I don’t like the word disability because of its negative connotation. When you introduce someone as having disabilities, you automatically, even if you don’t mean to, begin to make a list in your head of all the things they probably can’t do instead of what they can.

I feel like that’s the common misconception with kids like my sister. I do not consider her disabled. I don’t look at her or her classmates and friends as disabled, I look at them as people who need a little more help with things I might not need help with; People who are highly intelligent but who haven’t quite figured out a way to express it in a way other people will understand. My sister has so many abilities that I couldn’t even count them all on my fingers and toes. With stats like that, why would I focus on her disabilities?

She is the reason why I chose to name my blog, the Look She CanBlog. I think the greatest part about my blog title is that it can be emphasized grammatically in a variety of different ways (inner English nerd is coming out so get ready) For example: Look, She Can… Look! She Can… Look, SHE CAN… Yet all these variations portray the same message. POSITIVITY of others ABILITIES.

I myself have dealt with a large amount of negativity and people telling me how I should act or who I should be, or even what they assume or tell me I can’t do. Now that’s fairly normal for an average teenage girl, but for my sister, it is a whole different ballpark.

Emily (aka Em) is so sweet, so affectionate (when she wants to be), so funny, and so caring. You would never know these things unless you really got to know her. She loves to dance and sing. My sister is nonverbal, so one of the big ways she vocalizes and expresses herself is through music. I have been on this Earth almost 17 years and have never heard my sister speak a single word. She did at one time before I was born, but unfortunately, her Autism ran off with that capability before I got the chance to experience it.

The most frustrating part about her being nonverbal is somedays you can physically see that the words are just sitting there on the tip of her tongue, but there is some untouchable force that keeps her silent. It is a fight not many people are aware of. Since she is unable to speak for herself, people tend to come to their own conclusions about her intellectual abilities.

The whole concept of biased doubt from others is a huge part of my life, whether it be affecting my sister or myself, and it has really shaped how I see the world. This is the perspective I write from on this blog.

It’s shocking to me, the amount of time it takes a person to create a prejudice against my sister. All they have to do is look at her, even just a glance, and their opinion of her is written all over their face. When you see someone with special needs, you either feel compassion or pity. There is really no in-between. Either way, your feelings are immediately noticeable.

The pity comes in two forms: pity for the person with the special needs or for the person’s family or caretakers. I don’t like the pity approach because once again, the word has a negative connotation. I know that having a family member with special needs can be challenging and tiresome, but it is also so wonderful and fulfilling that it far outweighs the challenges in ways most people would never imagine.

When people offer me the pity approach, sometimes I just want to get in their face and say: “Let’s get one thing straight. Just ONE THING. My sister? She is not a burden. I would appreciate if you wouldn’t talk about her as such.” But I don’t. I know they don’t understand, so there is no reason for me to take it out on them for trying to show me pity for something they don’t realize doesn’t cause me grief.

You learn a lot from knowing someone with special needs. You learn patience, understanding, and if you don’t believe in the phrase: “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” if you get to know someone with special needs, believe me, you will.

Each and every single one of them is capable of more than you think. This is 2017, stop treating people differently simply because they aren’t exactly like you. News flash of the century, NO ONE IS.

It is amazing the things you can learn about someone just by having a conversation. And no, conversation is not a foreign concept to people with special needs, it’s human; They crave it just as much as the next person, if not more. Human interaction isn’t easy for everybody. I know that from an introvert’s perspective and from an individual with special needs’ perspective. Being inclusive and being good to other people really isn’t that hard if you at least try.

I have such an amazing relationship with my sister. She is without a doubt my BFF and I wouldn’t trade her love for the world.

I am not ashamed of her, I never have been. I am proud to be her sister. I think it is incredibly important for people to publicly show their appreciation for people with special needs, especially when they’re family. It’s something that’s not shown enough in the media. She has bad days, and many people don’t understand why, but I accept her always; regardless of how her day is going and what others may think of her.

That is what makes her such a puzzle to the world and to us. Most of her emotional frustration is rooted from her Autism, and the rest of her unique and sparkling qualities are because of her Down Syndrome, also known as, Trisomy 21. Both require a little time to even begin to understand, so some people just don’t try.

My sister is like a puzzle piece. She is one-of-a-kind and important, but even today we still aren’t sure when the pieces of her life will all fall together to create something we all understand. We are still trying to figure it out and we won’t ever stop. We learn something new about her every day. The only thing that I know for sure is that even though she may be a single puzzle piece, she completes me.

— I hope to share more about my sister and my family with you in the coming months. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by,
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Brunch with Em at the Mason Jar Cafe in Benton Harbor, Michigan

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An American teenager documenting her life and the world around her one blog post at a time.

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