Help a young girl with autism explain to the world what it's like to be autistic by supporting UNSPOKEN, the documentary about her life.

By Jamie Pacton

Autism acceptance has a tremendous champion in Emma Zurcher-Long, an autistic 13-year-old who really found her voice two years ago through typing and who now writes the blog Emma's Hope Book. Emma's newest project is a documentary called UNSPOKEN, a film being produced by Geneva Peschka and co-directed by Emma and Julia Ngeow. They started shooting a year ago and are almost done filming, but they need our help. Currently, the team's raising money via an IndieGogo campaign to cover production, distribution, and other costs before UNSPOKEN's public release in fall 2016.

Here, I'll break down what the film is all about:

How did the film come about?

The idea for the film arose when Peschka read this simple sentence on Emma's blog: "I need people to understand what it is like to be Autistic."

Peschka then offered Emma a chance to let us see through her eyes by making a first-person documentary. And, as Emma's mom Ariane Zurcher notes, Emma has had a huge role in shaping the film. "From the beginning," Zurcher says, "Geneva and Julia had meetings with Emma to get her thoughts on what she wanted to say, what she thought was important for people to see, what sorts of scenes she wanted included, and the documentary began to take shape."

What's 'UNSPOKEN' about?

In Emma's words, UNSPOKEN is: "[About] my life, mostly the positive, but sprinkled with salt on tough beliefs thought by others who decide they know what it's like to be me or worse, don't care. This is about prejudices, segregation, human rights, and fear. Let's change people's perceptions with love."

Why is there a need for this film?

As Zurcher told me: "Most of what is written and produced about autism (in the mainstream) is written and/or created by those who are not autistic. As a result, the information that is available to people about autism is almost always biased (at best) and often incorrect as well as coming from the perspective of someone who is not autistic."

How can you help?

  • Share the news about UNSPOKEN and read Emma's blog in order to promote autism acceptance.

But really, why should you support UNSPOKEN?

Jess Wilson, blogger at the popular Diary of a Mom, said it best: "[UNSPOKEN] isn't just a movie. It's the heart of a movement—a movement toward understanding, compassion, support, and an unwavering belief that every human being is richly, unconditionally worthy of all three."

Amen to that. And let's all go support UNSPOKEN, so we can share Emma's vision and her perspective with a world that desperately needs to know and understand what it's like to be autistic.

Jamie Pacton lives near Portland where she drinks loads of coffee, dreams of sailing, and enjoys each day with her husband and two sons. Find her at, Facebook (Jamie Pacton), and Twitter @jamiepacton.


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