North Dakota Photographer

The Faces of Autism/Isabella

Meet Isabella!

Isabella is beautiful 5 year old girl who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3 years old.  She loves to sing and dance and I have been told she has quite the set of pipes!  Isabella is a sweet, loving, fun, and empathetic little girl with an amazing memory.


When Isabella was younger she didn't have good eye contact and had a hard time following age appropriate directions.  She had a speech delay/echolalia (which is meaningless repetitive words repeating another person's spoken words), preferred to play alone and would become anxious in crowded social gatherings.  Isabella also had severe eating difficulties, which have continued on to this day.

Isabella has taught her parents to look at life in a different light and reminds them to slow down and REALLY look at the beauty around.  They feel very fortunate to have a great support system consisting of family, friends, therapists, teachers, and coaches.  They are also thankful for the friendships they have made since joining a local Autism Support group.  They are very proud of Isabella and the progress that she is making on this Autism journey!

The Faces of Autism/Sisters Sammie and Sonja

You have met Sammie and Sonja individually, and their stories are very similar.  In case you weren't aware, they are twins.  Both with Autism.  Their mother may very well be my hero.

Sammie and Sonja's speech wasn't coming along as expected.  Their parents thought it was just a speech delay, they never even thought Autism and didn't know much about it.  Like most people, they associated Autism with things like no eye contact or lack of affection.  After someone had told them they thought the girls had Autism, they did research and realized they had many red flags.  

Both Sammie and Sonja are extremely affectionate.  Sammie is amazing at figuring things out on her own and is an avid animal lover.  Sonja is a great friend to others and tries her best to help her little brother out when he needs it.

Having twins is difficult, as any parent of multiples will tell you.  Having twins who both carry an Autism diagnosis is incredibly hard.  You have all the challenges of having a child with Autism, but twice, and at the same time.  Balancing two nearly identical therapy programs and communicating with around 20 therapists and special educational professionals is exhausting.

Even with all the difficulties and struggles their mother has this to say: "I am so grateful they both have Autism. They connect in their own world in a way they would never be able to without sharing it (the diagnosis). I don't ever have to worry about them being isolated because they understand eachother perfectly."

PS. The girls weren't really enthusiastic about me taking a photo of them together.  I tried twice.  So these are from last spring!

The Faces of Autism/Grant

Meet Grant!

Grant is an adorable 5 year old boy that was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3 years old.  He loves music, swimming,  swinging and playing outside.  He has an amazing smile, gorgeous eyes and is already quite the flirt and ladies man!


At 2 years old, right around the time his younger sister was born, Grant's language regressed.  He stopped saying the things he had previously said.  He stopped playing with toys he used to like and no longer gave good eye contact.  Grant stopped responding to his name and he lacked focus.  Many people told his parents to not worry, that he would catch up, even though they felt like something was not quite right.  Grant is non-verbal, but that doesn't mean there isn't hope that he will talk someday.


His mom has some amazing words of wisdom and insight:
"Autism is the hardest, most challenging thing I have come across in my life thus far.  As a mom, trust your gut instinct.  Research and ask questions.  Never give up!  Take time for yourself and other family members and build a strong support group.  Celebrate the small victories!"


The Faces of Autism/Sophia

Meet Sophia!

Sophia is a sassy 3 year old girl who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder earlier this year.  She is smart and has an amazing memory.

As an infant, Sophia was late rolling over, sitting, crawling and standing.  Around 9 months old, her parents became really concerned as Sophia showed no interest in doing typical things like splashing in the tub or playing with age appropriate toys.  At 1 year old she was evaluated by BECEP but did not qualify for services at the time.  


By 17 months old, Sophia stopped talking all together and began to get aggressive with her peers.  At 2 years old, she began Speech and Occupational Therapies.  Her mom had suspected Autism, but was brushed off and told it was just behavioral and sensory issues.  As time went on, Sophia wasn't making progress, and was actually regressing more.  Her doctors started to listen and referred her to a Child Psychologist.  After many months of frustration with the process, Sophia was diagnosed in January, 2016 with Autism.  


Although this is a difficult journey for Sophia and her family, everyday is a new beginning, with new strengths and challenges.  Sophia amazes her parents every day with the strides she is taking and has taught them to not take the small things for granted.


The Faces of Autism/Coulter

Meet Coulter!

Coulter is a sweet, smart 5 year old who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at 2.5 years old.  He loves dinosaurs and can identify many with their scientific name.  He has tremendous spirit and an amazing smile.  He works hard and doesn't give up.

Once we reached the interactive dinosaur exhibit, Coulter didn't really care that I was there anymore.  I'm pretty sure I was nothing more than a distraction from the cool, fun stuff. 

Once we reached the interactive dinosaur exhibit, Coulter didn't really care that I was there anymore.  I'm pretty sure I was nothing more than a distraction from the cool, fun stuff. 

Between 12-15 months, Coulter's parents noticed a major regression in speech and language.  He also started having more behaviors and showed less eye contact.  His parents had him start Early Intervention and he transitioned to BECEP at 3 years old.

This is not the plan Coulter's parents had planned while waiting for him to arrive in this world.  No one plans for things to not work out in a neat little package.  One thing they do know is that God has greatly blessed every single ounce of effort that has been put in by Coulter, his therapists, interventionists, and them.  He has multiplied it so many fold.


His mom says "This isn't the journey that I had planned, but God had a different idea and it turns out, He is a better planner than I am.  I have met so many amazing families, therapists, advocates, and others through this journey that I never would have had the opportunity to know otherwise.  It's not all sunshine and roses, roses have thorns and are fertilized with manure, and that's okay, too."