{My story – For the love of Autism | Madison, WI photographer}

I have had a passion for working with children and have for as long as I can remember. My degree is in Early Childhood Education and I wanted to be a preschool teacher for years and years. When I was working as a preschool teacher in Colorado several years ago now, I met the most wonderful boy. He was so smart and sensitive. He looked right into my eyes. He held my hand. He wore an Incredibles costume into school on a regular basis. He hugged me and made jokes. He laid down outside so he could watch the trike wheels roll by as the other kids rode them. He lined up his toy trucks. He screamed ear shattering screams and covered his ears. He had a hard time following directions and would often crumple into a ball on the floor or tantrum so loud the whole building could hear him.

As time went on the other teachers began feeling frustrated because he wasn’t responding to them and the other children the way the other kids did. They weren’t sure how to stop the tantruming, not listening, etc. Don’t get me wrong, they were always kind to him, but they were frustrated. These behaviors in combination with many other things that had come up made me not frustrated-but energized. Why was he acting this way? What was wrong? I wanted to help him – not pass him off. I knew he was in there- he needed help expressing himself. He was eventually diagnosed with PDD-NOS I believe. Honestly, it didn’t make a difference to me what his diagnosis was as long as I could help.

He has a wonderful family with beautiful hearts and faith that is solid. He is a lucky boy and I am lucky to have known him. When he’s older, maybe he’ll know that he changed the course of my life forever because he was the little one who introduced me to the ASD world. I would like to share one of my favorite memories of him- at my wedding he looked up at his mom and said, “But mom, I thought I was going to marry Miss Laura”.

The summer I got married my husband and I moved from Colorado to Wisconsin. I wasn’t thrilled about it. That’s putting it nicely 😉 But I did see it as an opportunity to pursue my work with those on the Autism Spectrum-a fresh start. I googled “working with kids with Autism in Madison” and got an immediate link to Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP). Well that was a wonderful chapter in my life. I won’t go into the entire thing because we’ll be here for hours-but the families and children I worked with were out of this world. So much awesomeness (yep-awesomeness) happened when I was a therapist and I will never ever forget the way working with them changed me. Each child, each parent, each sibling, left a mark on me and what I want to share with the world.

When my daughter was born my husband and I decided I would stay home with her and I have loved literally every minute. Even the minutes that are hard, I love. I started my photography business because it was something I’d always dreamed of doing. But, I missed ‘my kids’ as I often referred to them as. I thought-if I am going to pursue a photography business I want to keep working with these families I love so much. Then I realized that so many children I worked with hadn’t had professional photos taken in years-if ever. It is just one more thing for overwhelmed and over-judged parents to deal with. I thought that maybe I could share their stories, so many others could see these incredible children and their loving families.

So-here I am. Holding my camera and using it to help families preserve their moments. These moments are your life-fleeting moments that will never happen again. I want to capture those for you to have forever.

I will have blog posts throughout April (Autism Awareness Month) highlighting the children I have photographed in the last few months, so stay tuned! These children are beautiful-you won’t want to miss it!

This is Sam (Sammy to his mom) and he is a wonderful boy. Just look at all the soul behind those eyes!Madison WI Photographer