The Faces of Autism: Meet Isabella

Meet Isabella, known by most as Bella, a happy 7 year old girl that was diagnosed with autism at 3.5 years old.  Bella is a smiley young girl who turns on a super serious face as soon as I bring my camera out to take a photo! This is Bella's third year in this project, you can read last year's story HERE.

dear me photography bismarck child photographer girl with long brown hair playing with her shirt

When Bella was younger, she often did not respond when spoken to and had/has severe eating issues with oral aversions. She had no interest in potty training.  Bella didn't play with other typical age appropriate toys and usually did not play with other children her age, either.

Isabella is a sweet and happy child who wants everyone around her to also be happy. She is extremely empathetic and makes those who meet her smile within minutes. She loves music and singing, and loves her music lessons with Solstice Music Therapy, where she can sing and play a variety of instruments. After only hearing a tune or song a couple times, she can repeat most, if not all, of it back. She is learning to use her iPad to further express her voice and needs. Bella also loves horseback riding and her time with TH 4 Heart and Soul, utilizing therapeutic riding.  She loves playing outside when the weather is nice, going boating, and watching cartoons.

dear me photography bismarck child photographer girl with hair tucked behind her ear

Bella struggles with changes in her routine and fear of the unknown. She has a very hard time expressing pain or sickness. When she gets a cold or infection, she doesn't understand what is wrong and takes it very hard. She still has oral aversions and trouble eating solid food, as well as struggles with becoming fully potty trained.

Since last year, overall Bella's sleeping has improved except when she is sick or in pain. She is still self feeding and tolerates chunky food and more textures. She has no problems brushing her teeth! Bella has become more affectionate and tolerates physical contact better. She is working on writing more words than just her name. New challenges  are definitely her 6 year molars coming in.  She didn't understand the pain and had to be held the majority of the day and night for a couple months.

dear me photography bismarck photographer young girl in shirt with blue sleeves crossing her arms

Isabella's parents want others to know "to be patient and kind when they see families who have a child that may be struggling or may seem different than what they are used to. Isabella has helped us slow down and appreciate the little things in life. Sometimes a thing as simple as her using the right word at the appropriate time and situation can nearly bring us to tears. We often are strangely tolerant of some things and then extra strict other times when some parents might do the opposite. Because of her, we have become advocates for the autism community.  We are thankful for those we have met in the autism community and for all those on "Team Bella!" The hearts of those that are helping Isabella grow are truly amazing."