When I first traveled to England to meet with Simon Spinks in person I was privileged to stay at his home and meet his incredible wife Andrea and daughter Emily or “Em” as her friends know her. At age two, Em was diagnosed with a severe form of autism preventing her from being able to speak and causing her to be terrified by her own environment making even a simple trip to the store a major ordeal. Em has dealt with some of those issues by ensconcing herself in a world of art and music. She has become a great artist and when I was there I was able to see some of her work. I was blown away. Andrea sends me a note from time to time on what Em is up to and recently sent me this piece that will now be hanging on my office wall opposite my desk. I am placing it where I can see it every day for a few good reasons.
- I love the work.
- Em can’t speak and for a long time couldn’t even be out in public but yet she discovered something great inside of herself. A way for her to share and express something in her heart and mind. What is hidden in me/you? What untapped potential is there that I am not pushing hard enough to uncover?
- Andrea and Simon are great parents to Em and encourage her at ever turn. They don’t accept that Em’s diagnosis would keep her in one spot, they push her to realize her potential. What remains hidden because we don’t have a big enough expectation of ourselves, our kids, our company?
- Real treasure has nothing to do with money.
Andrea and Em have taken this passion a step further and have opened up a shop they call Em’s People. This is a retail store and art studio that allows for other young adults with autism a place to express their creativity and to promote their independence and employability. So the next time you are in Selby, England you need to pop in and take something special home with you.
Em’s art used to inspire family and friends but is now doing so much more. My heartfelt thanks to Andrea and Em for sending me this piece and for showing us all what “could be”.
If you want to get involved locally in supporting the search for a cure to autism I suggest you give my friend Doug Krinsky a call. He has been putting on the Ante4Autism event for the past 9 years at the Vegas furniture market and it is a total blast to attend. DO NOT MISS IT!