Meet Nick. He loves bubbles, dancing, coloring and his ipad. I will also add that he really loves his mommy, daddy and little sister.
I was lucky to meet this bright young boy and work as a therapist on his team when he was new to ABA therapy. I always have such a special place in my heart for the children I worked with personally and was honored to do his photos. I think each family is remarkable, a sentiment you will undoubtedly hear me echo over and over again. This family is no exception. I met Nick when he was just turning 3 years old and his mother was only weeks away from having a baby.
You can imagine the wave of emotions you would have when your child was starting intensive therapy (40 hours a week, folks). I can only imagine how you could prepare yourself and your child while also trying to prepare for a new baby. Regardless, they were so committed, steadfast and what’s the most impressive-kind. I developed a fondness for them and here we are, 3 years later.
I asked Nick’s mom what she had hoped to have this project showcase about Nick and she used the same word over and over again. Sweet. How sweet he is. It wasn’t hard to capture Nick’s sweet nature, as it just pours right out of him. It’s natural to be drawn to Nick, with his infectious grin and endless happy energy, he is just a joy. I personally loved spending time with him for this session because I loved to see how far he’s come!
Here are his mother’s words:
“We hope for a cure. We love him with every fiber of our beings. But like all parents, we want the best for our child. With the diagnosis, the resulting therapy schedule, all the appointments and the work of integrating into public schools, we are overwhelmed. And there are just some things that you have to tackle, beyond other normal parenting responsibilities. And Nick has worked harder than other kids his age, too. 40+ hours of therapy a week. I am SO PROUD of his effort.”
Something I find important to point out is how tremendously families who have children on the autism spectrum are impacted. Nick’s parents were very open in sharing with me that they can still recall the shock and pain of his diagnosis. They said that the initial shock has now worn off, but there are new things weekly that they find painful. It’s easy for an outside observer to pass judgement and I think we as a community need to be more understanding to what parents and children with special needs face daily.
This extends to stereotypes and Nick’s parents have heard many. I think that these can be so frustrating for families who are trying to show the world the true essence of autism. The examples Nick’s mother gave me about the type of things they are told, are very common. Some think that he just needs to find his ‘creative genius’ and he’ll snap out of it. That they aren’t discipling him enough, that they could somehow discipline autism away. And that children who are not very verbal are not listening (they hear everything!) and/or that they have a cognitive disability (which is not true in Nick’s case).
Another stereotype I hear a lot is that children on the autism spectrum don’t connect with others, which I think you can clearly see is not true. Nick’s connection and the love towards his family is so obvious!
I hope that through the month of April we can continue to spread awareness and support. I am so grateful to Nick’s family for being so open and honest with me and for allowing me into their home to capture their sweet boy!