The Faces of Autism: Meet Edison

Meet Edison, a silly 6 year old boy that was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old.  When I arrived at his home, he decided he was not getting out of bed, so all his photos were done there!  He made silly faces, serious faces, angry faces and happy faces for me, but when he was done, he was done! 

dear me photography bismarck faces of autism boy laying in his bed

Close to the age of 2, Edison was still not talking. He would say approximately five words but never consistently. His parents would teach him a word and then a week later he would forget how to say it. He also didn’t make good eye contact and he changed from clapping to hand flapping when he would get excited. During the change of clapping to hand flapping, Edison started to develop back to back ear infections which required to tubes to be placed in his ears.

Edison is considered high functioning and is extremely gifted with memorizing music and videos. His mom thinks that he may have a photographic memory. He learned his ABC’s in one day at the age of 3, at which time he also learned to read and write. Edison self-taught himself on the iPad in just a few days. He is very in-depth when focusing on a task. He is also fascinated with numbers, letters, shapes and colors. Edison gives a lot of affection and love.

dear me photography bismarck faces of autism boy squinting at camera

Edison has a hard time in change of routine or people in his day. At an earlier age, Edison would not let you into the home or anyone come over unless you were announced and he needed study your photo before you came. He would require a lot of prepping time. And if he said no and you showed up, you would have to leave. Luckily this has gotten 80% better. He also struggles with going #2 on the potty. He is scared to do it, it's like he’s losing a part of himself. Like many with autism, Edison struggles with eating a good diet. He also has a hard time going to sleep, his mom still rocks him every night. Edison struggles with lots of people or any sports events. His mom feels he misses out on a lot because it becomes sensory overload. He only allows her to take him to school and do certain things and won’t allow dad or others to do it.  Communication is difficult for Edison, he scripts a lot.  He can answer questions, but can't carry on a full conversation.

Edison absolutely loves music! He will fixate on a specific musician or group and learn all of their songs, watch all of their videos, memorize them, and then reenact them over and over and over again. He has gone through Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, Adele, 21 Pilots, Sia and, most recently, Bruno Mars! Each one has lasted approximately 2 to 3 months, but he always goes back to his favorite songs of all of them. He also LOVES to bowl on the WiiU, iPad and his Rolling sense. If you can’t do any of those, he will make a bowling set with Playdoh and use that. Edison also loves swimming and going down water slides. He really looks up to his brother and looks forward to playing with him.

dear me photography bismarck faces of autism young boy laying down with serious expression

From Edison's mom:
"When you live in a world of autism, it brings so many emotions. A lot of times I think people view autism as depressing, sad or a lot of suffering. I don’t believe that is the case. In fact, I have always tried to view the glass as half full instead of half empty. I have been given a tremendous gift and I have gained a lot of patience and acceptance of others. I see the world differently and have much empathy for everyone’s situations. Watching the world through Edison’s eyes can sometimes be very sad. When he struggles with situations or certain people, it can be a moment of sorrow for him and us around him who also go through the struggles. Sometimes watching other parents with their children who can do things that Edison cannot do can create an overwhelming emotion of sadness, thinking he will never get to experience certain things in life. However, most of the time, I look at my son and see this truly amazing individual who can see things and use parts of his brain that not many can. I feel truly blessed to have him and cannot wait to see what’s in store for his bright future!"

"I think one of the hardest and most amazing things about autism is having A 9-year-old son who is the most amazing big brother to Edison. Vincent has sacrificed so much in his life because he has a brother with autism and like I said: we all live in Edison’s world. Vincent has handled that very well. He looks out for his brother, protects him, plays with him and has always taught him how to do things in life. He shares everything he owns with Edison and even gives up his own stuff to make Eddie happy. Even when Eddie yells at Vincent to go away, he never stops trying to be the best brother he can be. I am so thankful for him!"

dear me photography bismarck faces of autism boy kneeling on bed

Scripting is reciting lines from movies, tv shows, YouTube videos, books, etc.  It is a very common trait for people with autism.  In fact, it is used so often, that some have been able to seamlessly incorporate this into conversation and use these lines to socialize.  Unless you are around them long enough, or familiar with the same thing they are scripting from, you might not even pick up on it.  People with autism can also use scripting as a form of verbal stimming and may repeat an entire show while walking around in circles in the living room (real life example from my house!) Click HERE to watch a great video about scripting, straight from someone who know firsthand.  As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment or reach out and I will do my best to help!