The Faces of Autism: Meet Braden

Meet Braden, an incredibly helpful 16 year old young man that was diagnosed with autism around 6 years old.  Braden is always so sweet and eager to greet me ever since we met last year for his story, which you can read HERE.

dear me photography bismarck teen photographer teenage boy in hat and hands in pockets

Braden was very delayed at about 6 months of age. He fell off the growth chart and created his own. He was tested for multiple things because he was so small and delayed,including, but not limited to, cystic fibrosis. The school evaluated him and it was after that he had a "diagnosis". The diagnosis was confirmed as he got a little older and more signs were very evident.

Braden has a huge heart and he is very caring. He loves to help with just about everything. Braden loves to play with cars, trucks, and tractors and ride his bike all over. He mows the yard as well as a few of the neighbors' yards. During the winter, Braden snowblows about 5 or 6 driveways in his neighborhood. He loves helping people with projects, even when they don't necessarily need or want the help.  Braden helps in activities at the nursing home his grandmother resides.  As a family they do many "awareness" walks.

dear me photographer bismarck teen photographer teenage boy wearing black and red sweatshirt

Braden really struggles with understanding multiple steps, simple is better. Reading and understanding body language from others is tough, with both peers and adults. He often thinks people, especially his mom,  are mad at him or angry because of tone at times.  Personal hygiene is a huge struggle, he hates showers, mainly soap. He loves to just stand in the water instead of fully washing himself. Braden's body is changing with puberty and he doesn't understand that either.

Braden transitioned to high school this year, his mom thought it was going to be very tough, but he proved otherwise. It's been an okay transition. In high school they have "peer to peer" mentors and he's really liked that. . Fortunately, some of the physical aggressiveness that Braden has has been improved, and the family feels like they have a good hold on it.  There have been some challenges as his body changes, with curiosity beginning to peak.  Braden has a hard time understanding the changes throughout puberty.

dear me photography bismarck teen photographer teenage boy squinting at camera wearing fake fur hat

From Braden's mom about autism:
"Every day is very different even though we try to keep it very structured for Braden. Routine is very important. There are so many challenges. There are also so many rewards. I couldn't imagine life any differently, we wouldn't know what to do. Having a child with autism has shaped our family in ways I could never have imagined."