{Autism Awareness | Meet Henry}

{ Photographer, Madison WI)

April is Autism Awareness month, as I am sure you know if you are reading this! This month I wanted to show off some of the wonderful children I met and photographed throughout the last 5 months, while doing photos for this project. I have met new families and reconnected with children I used to do ABA treatment with through Wisconsin Early Autism Project. This experience has been powerful for me and I have enjoyed it so very much.

I went back and forth over and over again, trying to decide if I should debut this during April or in January and post throughout the year. Obviously April is Autism Awareness month, but EVERYDAY is Autism awareness for families living with it.

Why am I doing this project? Hope. With an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis (which are not rare – CDC is now saying that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed) there is so much hardship. And so much hope. So many bumps and so many set backs. So much frustration. So much confusion. Anger. Sadness. Loneliness. But there is hope. There is joy. Progress. And there are triumphs- sweet sweet triumphs.There are hugs. Eye contact and I love yous. There is hope.

The take away? I want you and everyone you know to know that a diagnosis doesn’t define a person. It just doesn’t. It might help you understand them, and that is a good thing. A diagnosis may help you understand why someone may do the things they do, but it doesn’t make them who they are.

Someone I worked with once said “I don’t like saying ‘they are autistic’. Because Autism doesn’t have them”.

I liked that, it rings true. These individuals are like you. Like me. Like your son, like your daughter. They aren’t anything other than themselves. Autism doesn’t have them. They have Autism.

Henry is a PERFECT example of this way of thinking. His parents have made an exceptional effort in teaching him (and his brother-who you will meet soon) that he can do anything he wants. When I asked Henry’s mother what she wanted captured about her boys she said “Just their joy”.

Autism Awareness Madison WI Children photographer

This is Henry. I had the joy of working as Henry’s therapist for 2 years. He is a sweet, smart, spunky and silly boy. He likes legos, playing outside, computer/video games, board games, Beast Quest books, baking, and ice cream sandwiches.

Henry couldn’t wait to show me his snowboarding.  He declared “Laura! I am an awesome snowboarder!” the moment we stepped outside.

Henry has a spark in his eye and an infectious smile. I love talking to Henry because you can tell he is thinking about everything you are saying. Here are a few of my favorites from our afternoon together.

Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Even pro snowboarders get cold, so when we headed inside, Henry showed me some of his incredible lego creations. He had stories to go along with them all!Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer Autism Awareness Madison WI Children Photographer I am looking forward to introducing you to sweet Elliot, Henry’s little brother soon! Check back here throughout April to see more exceptional children.

-Laura

P.S. Hi Henry! You are a rock star! I hope to see you soon!

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