Emily Wallis,  —

Emily is a 22-year-old first-grade teacher. Her sister, Abby, has the rare neurodegenerative disease Sanfilippo syndrome, which has been coined a “childhood Alzheimer's." She is a Houston, Texas, native and enjoys all types of writing, spending time with her family and friends, and learning something new every day. In this column, she shares the ups and downs of caring for Abby.

Articles by Emily Wallis

I Find Comfort in Believing Loss Can Bring Peace

I’ve experienced several defining moments in my life over the last five years. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 as my senior year of high school began. We received my sister’s diagnosis of Sanfilippo syndrome, a terminal illness without a cure, in 2017 — the same…

Finding Your Home Base in an Uncertain World

My favorite part of writing columns for Sanfilippo News is the opportunity to reach people both in and outside of the Sanfilippo community. In this quarantine, we’re all sort of in the same boat. We’re locked in our houses, anxiously watching the news and wondering when exactly we’ll be able…

Finding the Unity in Disability

If I don’t have a topic in mind when it’s time to write a column, I read articles. I look into the lives of other siblings of special needs individuals, delving into the struggles, pains, and joys of their respective experiences. From this, I usually find…

Spending Quality Time with My Sister, Abby

I spent a lot of time with Abby a couple of weeks ago. Her caregiver was sick, so I knew I’d be spending several days with her. I had two options: I could be angry at Sanfilippo syndrome, which makes caregiving necessary in the first place, and fall…

The Day I Broke Down and Sanfilippo Won

It’s been a while since I’ve had what I consider a “depressive episode.” I had one this week. Some may argue that feeling low for a few hours shouldn’t qualify as an episode, and I’m not trying to diminish the severity of depression. However, the crippling…

With the New Year Comes Difficult Feelings

Jan. 1 always brings up difficult feelings for me. Even before Sanfilippo syndrome entered our lives, New Year’s was a holiday for reflection — which isn’t necessarily an easy thing to process. Each year, thoughts about what the coming year has in store and what next Jan. 1 will look…

Dealing with Jealousy and Other Emotions

In this column, I want to focus on a word that has been particularly difficult for me to talk about in the past. While it has synonyms such as envy or desire, this week I’m writing about the “J” word: jealousy. It’s hard not to be jealous sometimes when particular…

My Advice to Other Sanfilippo Siblings

I recently read a column about a teen whose brother has special needs. A lot of what the author said was spot on. She described what I experienced with my sister, Abby, when I was younger. As I read it, I thought about the small, often overlooked population of Sanfilippo…