spectrum

To the Lady with the Screaming Kid

A few weeks or so ago, while out to dinner with my family, there were a couple of “misbehaved” children. These two boys ran around the restaurant shrieking, laughing and full of energy. One boy came up to our table several times expressing himself loudly. Truth is, they were not misbehaving, they were being themselves. I could see that these boys were on the spectrum. We were not annoyed with boy who came to visit our table, we were joyed to see them at the restaurant.

The mother of the one boy who came to our table would grab him and apologize to us. No matter how many times we said “no worries, its all good”, she still apologized. I wish she would have know that it really was alright with us.  I wish she would have known that we were happy she had taken the time to go out and get a bite to eat. Good for her to let someone else do the dishes. I wish I would have told her that.

Growing up, it was a rare sight to see someone on the spectrum out at a restaurant. Maybe that was due to the potential stress it may cause the parent worrying how their child would behave. Maybe the parents were worrying how strangers would behave. We have all seen plenty of children not on the spectrum who have not behaved well. Crying fits, tantrums, throwing fists perhaps because they didn’t gets candy bar or something else. So this situation should not be any different. If I come upon a situation like this again, I will go beyond saying “no worries” and tell that mother or father, “sit down, eat, we enjoy having your child visit us.”

A Wonderful Day

I recently had the opportunity to do a photo shoot for a group of families who have kids on the spectrum. It was a service project for a local organization and I happily took the assignment. For years I have photographed children on the spectrum. Some assignments were easy, some not so easy. I was unsure how a whole day of shooting ten families would go.

The weather could not have been more perfect. A long winter had pushed back spring and the days before were not to nice. The morning of shoot, the sky was bright and the weather a perfect 74 degrees. A wonderful start!

Each family had a 20 minute time slot, with a 10 minutes buffer between the next client. As with many kids on the spectrum, it was not easy to get eye contact with the camera. But that was fine. I shot the kids as they wanted to be shot. Sitting on the steps, running through the fields. However they felt comfortable. I had a blast getting see each of them in their full freedom, being themselves.

What really stuck with me that day was the interaction between the child on the spectrum and their siblings. The love that bound them was endless. It was so evident, that my assistant for the day, my 15 year old daughter was also blown away with the compassion, empathy and love they have for their siblings. That day, I saw pure love and it was beautiful.

As exhausting as that day was and the weeks that followed editing so many photos, it was by far my favorite shoot. This is why I love this job!