Fashion Designer Molly Salvi On ASD + The Relationship Between Her Two Young, Beautiful Daughters

raising a daughter with autism

We fell in love with Molly Salvi owner and designer for Squash Blossom Vintage when she posted this message for Autism Awareness Month on her Instagram.

"Every picture tells a story + this is a good one Y'all. It’s autism awareness month and anyone who is lucky enough to know a special person on the autism spectrum like my Zuzu would likely note that connecting with people + social situations are particularly challenging for these friends. This includes siblings and people who are closest to them which I can say for myself has been heartbreaking over and over again. Susannah has worked with teachers, therapists and tutors since she was 18 months old to learn how to do things that many of us take for granted- making eye contact, playing with other people, tolerating environmental sensory sounds and feelings, understanding what people are saying to her, and letting others be close. Her absence of speech makes it even harder for her to connect with people. When Louise was born, Susannah wouldn’t acknowledge her and would not for the next two years which was another heartbreak. Over time she began to slowly allow Louise into her space and very recently, Susannah starting looking at her. She began to see her for the first time. She ran and danced around her to show her she wanted to play. Here in the garden, today two sisters danced to bluegrass with eyes locked and laughter so intoxicating it brought me to tears. There’s always hope and there will always be better times ahead - you’ve just got to put in the excruciatingly hard work and keep charging up that mountain like my girl, refusing to let the weight of her challenges hold her down. So much love to all of you friends on the autism spectrum and the people who are lucky enough to know you ♡ "

Read more about Molly, Susannah (Zuzu) and Louise...

5 words that describe you...

natural, dream, organic, simple, vintage

how to raise a daughter on the autism spectrum

Your children’s names and ages:

Susannah (4 1/2), and Louise (3)

How do your children inspire you?

They inspire me to keep doing the things I loved before they were here. I want to be me for them through and through. I play music and try to keep growing my business and love taking classes when I have time. They’ve also taught me to slow down and have a little more patience.

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about Zuzu?

I wish people knew Zuzu was really smart, funny, and actually, loves people even though it may not seem so. Zuzu is still non-verbal and her silence can appear to be unfriendly or indicative of wanting to be alone but that’s not the case. Her eye contact is something she continues to work super hard on too. She is very loving and really likes people.

What is an activity your whole family loves to do together?

We love to hike, swim in the river, and road trip.

How do you survive a tough day of parenting?

On especially rough days I’ll buckle the gals in the car, put on a movie and talk to a girlfriend or listen to music while we drive through the country.

What is the one thing in your play space your children cannot live without?

Our garden. The girls practically live in it year round. They like to help us water all the flowers and vegetables and Zuzu's favorite thing to do is run out and pick all the ripe strawberries!

What’s the one thing you would drive back to get if you forgot it when you went out with Zuzu?

Snacks for sure.  She’s always hungry!

what it is like to have an autistic daughter

 Zuzu's favorite app?

So far we haven’t used any with her.  

Your favorite clothing brands/styles for Zuzu + why?

Zuzu wears a lot of vintage clothing since that’s what I do. We love Mabo kids and Hanna Andersson for everyday basics because they hold up so well and are comfy for her.

What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy?

I got myself a pair of Cobra Rock boots out of Marfa, Texas that I had wanted for a long time.

What advice would you give to a new special needs mom (or dad)?

I’d say to just trust that things will get easier and way less scary. In the beginning it seems like life with never be normal and eventually you find it’s actually so much better. You get to see the world in a different way and you quickly learn to not take anything for granted: every milestone they hit is means for celebration because it was fought for! Life simplifies and you realize that having a healthy child is all that really matters.

What quote do you live by?

“Comparison is the death of joy”.  Mark Twain 

Follow Molly on Instagram and shop her handmade and vintage collection!