A young violinist from Clayton isn’t letting her autism or anxiety stand in the way of her talent. In fact, she says playing the violin helps her cope. 

When Emma Palys was a toddler, her parents realized something was different.

She wasn’t developing as quickly as expected, and didn’t speak.  

At age 4, doctors diagnosed her with autism. 

“It started from there,” recalled her father, Michael Palys, “going to doctors, finding specialists, going through a lot of therapy,  a lot of focus groups trying to determine how to best work with her – to not necessarily treat it but to work with it.” 

After intense therapy, she started speaking when she was five, but school was difficult and sometimes painful.

In addition to autism, Emma dealt with severe social anxiety.

“I had a hard time getting along with the other kids because they were so different from me and I didn’t really understand what they liked. I was usually the one lone kid who walked around,” she explained. 

“There were a lot of tears at a lot of different times,” added her dad.  

When Emma started to play the violin, she said it calmed her. “It actually relaxes me a lot,” shes said. 

Despite her fear, she performed in front of people and to her own surprise she liked it. 

“It felt amazing,” she recalled. 

Emma still deals with severe anxiety and now attends school online at North Carolina Virtual Academy.

But the girl who once hated to leave her house, now excels in school and is  part of an orchestra and a quartet.

“It’s actually helped me get out a lot more it’s helped me with recitals and so on. It’s helped me meet new people,” said Emma. 

“You have a child that is not even talking-  so to go from that  to National Junior Honor Society and being able to get up in front of groups of people and just play her heart out is amazing,” added her dad.