Aunt Debbie: A True Treasure-Seeker

Gaining the trust of someone with autism, who would rather stay locked in their own world is equivalent to mining for a precious diamond. Just as diamonds are formed 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface, people with autism guard the trust of their hearts deep within their souls. And, just as with diamonds, the treasure far outweighs the toil.

Hannah’s Aunt Debbie is a true treasure-seeker. She takes time to research autism in order “to have a greater understanding of it and ability to relate to Hannah.”

Debbie knows little things, in reality, are huge. In diamond mining, the little things are the diamonds contained within hundreds of tons of soil and rock.

One Christmastime, Hannah wanted to make something special to give Aunt Debbie. She decided to learn to crochet to make her a scarf. She worked hours and hours on it, but in the end, she got nervous that Aunt Debbie wouldn’t like it.

But when Debbie opened the gift, she gasped and exclaimed, “Hannah! Did you really make this?”Hannah and Aunt Debbie

Hannah began to giggle.

“Oh my God! This is great! I love it!”

Hannah giggled some more and rushed over to give her a hug. Debbie wrapped the scarf around both of them and insisted on having a picture

taken. Hannah beamed from ear to ear. 

It was such a special moment – a diamond moment.

Hannah has scatter-skills, which means that she can understand and do some very complex things, yet have difficulty with some simple things which she is easily embarrassed about. When she and Debbie are together and this happens, Debbie is not judgmental or condescending. She explains it in a wonderful way that leaves Hannah feeling lifted up and encouraged.

Diamond moments. 

Debbie goes out of her way to make things fun for Hannah. She nicknamed Hannah, “giggle-machine,” because she laughs constantly when they’re together. They are baking buddies, canasta buddies, creamy (ice-cream) buddies, swimming buddies, and story-telling buddies.

When time came for Hannah to graduate from high school, Debbie called and said, “There’s no way I can miss this. I have to be there for Hannah!”

Hannah’s heart was very deeply touched by this. As we were waiting for Debbie at the airport, Hannah would sit for a minute, walk around, and check on the terminal for any changes about her flight – all in anticipation. Hannah let us know when her plane landed.  

We stood and watched for her as people began coming through. Hannah and Deb at airportHannah tilted her head right and left trying to see around the people. She began taking a few steps to the right and then back to the left constantly searching. When she finally saw her, they embraced, both in tears.

A diamond moment

In our recent visit to Vermont, Hannah was visiting Debbie one day, when suddenly the smoke alarm went off. Debbie knew to take the battery out of it rather than trying to wave the smoke away, because she knows people with autism can’t tolerate loud noises.

These “diamond moments,” no matter how big or small, are great examples of why Hannah feels safe with Debbie, can trust her and open up to her.

A couple days before we left, Debbie said, “Marlene, I have to tell you how great Hannah is doing. I’m really impressed with the progress she’s made since I saw her a year ago. When she came over for Bible studies, even when you couldn’t come, she still was very open and shared her thoughts and talked to everyone. It was amazing!”

“God has really done great things in her.”

“Yes, He has and it’s very obvious.”

The tremendous progress that Hannah has made is the result of God placing the most wonderful, treasure-seeking people in her life! They have sought out the diamonds in Hannah’s heart, brought them into the light, and polished them till they shine.

Aunt Debbie is a true treasure-seeker.


  1. // Reply

    This makes me sound so wonderful. Thank you. But the truth of the matter is that Hannah is the one who is wonderful, and God blessed me by making her my niece. Loving Hannah comes easy and natural because of who she is. It has never been difficult to see her inner beauty. She is a diamond in my life and after all, “diamonds are this girls’ best friend!”

    1. // Reply

      Thanks, Debbie! “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” God has given you a real gift to help people (especially hurting people) to feel safe and loved. I greatly appreciate the way you’ve used that gift to help bring forth the gifts God has given Hannah. You are both wonderful and my life is much richer because of each of you!

  2. // Reply

    Wow. The diamonds sparkle here. Debbie sparkles. Hannah sparkles. Marlene sparkles. What a loving and touching tribute. What a joy each of you brings. LOVED YOUR VISIT. (I hit ‘caps’ by accident. God does that to me when He wants something emphasized. I am pretty sure.)

    1. // Reply

      Glenda, you definitely have been a special diamond in all our lives! It was so good to see you! Love you!

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