Bismarck ND Photographer

The Faces of Autism/Sonja

Meet Sonja

Sonja is a sweet 5 year old girl that was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at 2.5 years old.  She loves getting her photo taken (seriously almost shoved her siblings out of the way so I could take more of her), and throws a pose for them!

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When Sonja was younger, her parents noticed her speech wasn't coming along as expected.  Someone had mentioned the possibility of Autism to them and after doing some research they noticed many red flags.  Autism had not even crossed their minds, especially because when they thought about Autism, they thought about lack of eye-contact or affection.  After they learned more, they learned that, although those things can be red flags for Autism, it doesn't mean that an affectionate child or one that makes good eye-contact is not on the Spectrum.

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Sonja has started showing a nurturing side and interacts with her younger brother more, even seeking him out to play games.  She is becoming more outgoing and is friendly to most people.  

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The Faces of Autism/"Bacon"

Meet "Bacon"

"Bacon" is an energetic 4 year old boy who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 3 years old.  He has an incredible thirst for knowledge!  When he gets focused on a subject, he cannot get his fill of information on that subject and he loves to share what he has learned with others.

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When "Bacon" was younger he was an early and advanced talker.  His parents started noticing around the age of 2.5 years old that he was falling behind children his same age with language and communication.  He had a large vocabulary, but was unable to answer simple questions or carry on an age appropriate conversation.  The answers he did give to questions were often scripted from books, television, or from observing others and not authentic.  During this time, "Bacon" also developed concerning behaviors such as meltdowns in any changes in his daily routine, having intense and destructive outbursts, and becoming a picky eater.  He also rarely played with toys beyond books and puzzles.

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"Bacon" is a very affectionate little boy as well as very protective of his little sister.  He is full of energy, has an infectious laugh, and loves making people happy.

His parents say the most important thing they have learned from "Bacon" is that, although he may not be what they expected, his strengths are bigger than his shortcomings.  Their role is to help him recognize his challenges and learn to self-regulate his body and emotions so his abilities can shine.  Their goal in raising "Bacon" is the same as with their other children: to help him to become a happy, compassionate and independent person with his own sense of individuality.  He may never be what others consider "normal", but that doesn't make him less.  They are committed to making it acceptable to be a square peg in a world of round holes.

To keep updated on "Bacon" and maybe learn a bit more on the day to day of having a child with Autism, you can go to his family's Facebook page (HERE) or their blog (HERE).

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The Faces of Autism/Sammie

Meet Sammie!

Sammie is a sweet, beautiful 5 year old girl who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum DIsorder at 2.5 years old.  She is an animal lover.  She is showing incredible strength in her receptive language skills as well as her problem solving skills.

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When Sammie was younger her parents noticed her speech was not progressing as it should have been.  The few words she did say, she stopped saying.  They assumed she just had a speech delay, Autism wasn't even on the radar, until someone had brought it up to them.  After that they did some research on warning signs of Autism and saw multiple red flags.

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Sammie has the tendency to regress before she gets new skills.  At first her parents found this very alarming and worried that she wouldn't regain the skills she lost, but now, after learning more about her, they just wait it out and see what she suprises them with after the "storm" passes.  

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The Faces of Autism/Brothers Berkley and Beau

 

You have already met both Berkley and Beau individually.  They are brothers who both have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Depending on the study you read, when you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, chances of a younger sibling having one as well is somewhere between 7% to 18%.  

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Berkley was diagnosed with Autism before Beau was born.  Because of this, their parents recognized the signs for Beau earlier.  The signs of Autism were similar, yet, at the same time, very different.  Their personalities are different, as well as their strengths and challenges.  Berkley struggles with language and fine motor skills, as well as following sequences, whether in the form of pictures or writing.  Beau's language is still developing, but he struggles with gross motor skills, such as balance and coordination, but he is very visual and learned how to build all his magnet and lego creations by watching others and looking at pictures. 

Berkley and Beau have a sister between them, a beautiful, friendly little girl named Harper.  She helps her brothers by modeling communication and behaviors for them.  She also motivates imaginative play with them.  She gets drug along to their appointments and outings, and, even though she is a generally happy girl, it gets wearing for her as well.

Having a child with special needs can be stressful for a family.  Having two can be even more so.  Both Berkley and Beau have busy, intense schedules that tend to overtake family life sometimes.  Their family has to balance the normal, everyday stresses of having three young children, as well as the additional stresses of having children with Autism.  Including behaviors, sensory issues, IEPs, various therapies and other ASD needs.  

Being a parent to a child with special needs can be very isolating and lonely, and it is easy to get into a routine that is all about your child, or children, and their needs.  So, if you know someone who has a child that has special needs, please remember to make an extra effort to reach out, whether it's a message, phone call, or a coffee date.  It will be appreciated more than you can imagine.  If you are a parent to a child with special needs, remember to take a little time to yourself sometimes.  No matter how hard it is, it is worth it and you deserve it.

The Faces of Autism/Beau

Meet Beau!

Beau is a 3 year old boy who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at 2.5 years old.  He is a sweet little boy with tons of energy!  He loves lining up his toys, labeling pictures and counting.  He loves to sing preschool songs and is even doing some of the motions for the songs!  He loves playing in water, just not while it is running!

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As a baby, Beau did not coo or babble, but instead made deep growling sounds when he was happy or playful.  He did not know how to play with typical baby toys.  When sat down, he stayed in the spot he was put and did not try to explore.  Beau could not eat baby food off of a spoon.  He did not wave or appropriately interact with others.

Beau started Early Intervention at 1.5 years old and transitioned to BECEP at 3 years old.  He is now on the DD (Developmental Disabilties) Waiver. 

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Beau has made amazing progress.  At Christmas 2015, he had only 2-3 words that he mimicked and didn't use functionally.  Today, Beau says well over 100 words and uses them functionally! He can identify letters and numbers, label pictures of foods, shapes, and spells out words.  He now can ask his mom for milk and crackers and he points to things of interest.  He has started saying animal sounds as well and even giggles with excitement!  He is become more aware of those around him and his world is expanding every day.

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