{ Autism Awareness: 2015 }

2014 was my first year doing an Autism photo project and to say I loved it is an understatement. I knew that I would have a great time stepping back into my comfort zone-working with children on the Autism spectrum. What I didn’t realize was how much working with these exceptional children and their parents really nurtures my soul. Naturally, I decided to continue the project this year, even though I am expecting a baby this spring!

As I write blog posts and look back at the children and families I met for the 2015 project, I can’t help but feel humbled. Humbled that these families invited me into their homes, shared their stories with me and with you. Humbled that they let me (and all of you reading this) into their lives. I can say without hesitation that these children and families are as real and raw as it gets. Let’s give them support during April-and ALWAYS.

I was astounded again this year, with the number of people telling me “he doesn’t look like he has Autism” or “oh, but he can talk so well” or “he is really smart, though!” upon hearing about a child’s Autism diagnosis.

I am not a parent of a child with autism. I do not hear these comments daily. But every time someone said something like that I was reminded of how little people really know about autism. I tried to brush off the feeling of irritation and replace it with motivation to spread awareness. I hope people understand that with the diagnosis rate of 1 in 68 (according to the CDC), they will encounter individuals with Autism. I hope that we can understand there is nothing ‘wrong’ with them. They are who they are meant to be. They may need some help in certain areas to help them flourish, but let’s face it, we all do.

There is a phrase in the autism community “different, not less”. Let’s remember that.

I am looking forward to introducing these beautiful children to you this month and hope you enjoy meeting them as much as I did.

Photographer Madison WI