I’m not scared of Autism…

I’m not scared of Autism.
I remember clearly someone ringing me and enquiring if I photograph kids on the spectrum “because the last photographer she talked to didn’t”
To be clear, that photographer probably was scared, had a bad experience or just didn’t know how awesome kids on the spectrum can be.
Over the years i’ve photographed so many kids on the spectrum at different levels.

I’ve had kids who would avoid school on photo days jumping around and being silly in front of my camera.

For other kids, I’ve got that photo that quiet reflection photo that shows who they are and what makes them special.

There is a trick to it, that trick is learning and time.
Every kid on the spectrum has different ways of being awesome, from things they like talking about through to knowing what they love to do. It’s the photographer’s job to find that out with the help of the parents. Naturally, before all my sessions, I ask a lot of questions in the planning to personalise a session, so once I know about the spectrum I have many more questions to ask so that I can kick off a great rapport with the child.
And 99% of the time, we get kick-ass photos.
It may be the session is a little longer, or much shorter.

It may be that I research volcanos so I can ask questions or give new facts

It may be that we bring an unexpected amount of favourite things

It may be that the location is unique so it’s quieter and calmer
It may be that i’m quieter and calmer… or louder and funnier
As a parent of an autistic little bundle of science-gardening-inventing-funny kid, I know that they can be a range of awesome to frustrating… but in the end, they are our kids. We love them, so no photographer should say no to photographing kids on the spectrum… they should say yes and learn that their life is missing out because they say no.

To help get you a little more up to speed on what makes Autistic kids awesome, here is a handy list I’ve put together.

  1. Kids with autism have unique ways of seeing the world, which can lead to the incredible creativity and original thinking. I’m in awe of the amazing ideas kids bring to sessions, they have a wild card that leads to greatness.

  2. Alot of kids with autism have exceptional memories, which means they can remember facts and details that others may forget. This can make them great at trivia games and other memory-based activities… and annoying if they see you buy a certain chocolate at the supermarket and the following day it’s not in the cupboard…

  3. Kids with autism often have a strong sense of justice and fairness, which means they may be more likely to stand up for what they believe in and fight for what’s right. 

  4. Many kids with autism have a deep passion for a particular subject or topic. This can lead to incredible expertise and knowledge in that area, and may even inspire them to pursue a career in that field. One of my best friends is on the spectrum and is the top in her field in terrestrial and aquatic ecology; her passion for all she does has always inspired me.

  5. Kids with autism are often incredibly honest and straightforward. They don’t have the same social filters that others do, which can make them refreshingly authentic and genuine… you just have to be prepared for it! I’ve had some cracking honest questions when I’ve been on shoots with autistic kids… I’m not sure why I wore those undies or why you can see them!!

  6. Many kids with autism have a great sense of humour, and can be incredibly funny and witty. They may have a unique perspective on the world that allows them to see the humour in situations that others may not. Some of your favourite comedians are on the spectrum; some know it, others don’t, but all their humour lifts everyone up.

  7. Kids with autism often have incredible attention to detail, which can make them great at tasks that require precision and accuracy. They may excel in fields such as science, math, or engineering.

  8. Many kids with autism have a strong sense of empathy, and can be incredibly kind and caring towards others. They may be more likely to notice when someone is upset or in need of help, and may go out of their way to offer support and comfort.

  9. Kids with autism can have a great imagination, which can lead to incredible creativity and storytelling abilities. They may enjoy writing, drawing, or creating their own stories and characters. In Fox’s case, this is all around inventions and machines at the moment; it’s like every week, we need to build something out of cardboard and then make it “work.”

  10. And you know what? Kids with autism are amazing simply because of who they are.

    They may face unique challenges and struggles, but they also have incredible strengths and abilities that make them grow up into amazingly talented people. Here is a list of former Autistic kids who are now adults (or in the case of Greta, will be soon)

    • Hannah Gadsby – Australian comedian and writer known for her stand-up specials such as “Nanette” and “Douglas.” both of which I shot the photos for!
    • Tim Burton – American filmmaker known for his dark, quirky style and films such as “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
    • Greta Thunberg – Swedish environmental activist who gained international attention for her work in fighting climate change.
    • Dan Aykroyd – Canadian actor and comedian known for his work on “Saturday Night Live” and in films such as “Ghostbusters” and “The Blues Brothers.”
    • Daryl Hannah – American actress known for her roles in films such as “Blade Runner” and “Kill Bill.”
    • Satoshi Tajiri – Japanese video game designer and creator of the popular franchise “Pokémon.”
    • Sir Anthony Hopkins – Welsh actor known for his roles in films such as “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Thor.”
    • Susan Boyle – Scottish singer who gained international attention after appearing on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009.
    • Courtney Love – American musician and actress known for her work as the frontwoman of the band Hole and for her roles in films such as “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”
    • Albert Einstein – German-born physicist and one of the most famous scientists of all time, known for his theory of relativity and E=mc2 equation.
    • Michelangelo – Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor known for his works such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the statue of David.
    • Lewis Carroll – English author and mathematician known for his classic works of children’s literature, including “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
    • Emily Dickinson – American poet known for her unique and experimental writing style.
    • Andy Warhol – American artist and leading figure in the pop art movement, known for his iconic works such as the Campbell’s Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe portraits.
    • Donna Williams – Australian author and artist known for her autobiographical books about growing up with autism.
    • Anthony LaPaglia – Australian actor known for his work in films such as “Lantana” and “Balibo.”

      Note that not all of these individuals have publicly identified as being on the autism spectrum but have been identified as such by various sources.

So, there you go, a little education or reminder for you. Autistic kids and people are pretty spectacular. You have get to understand their ways and adapt and enjoy them. Plus, you can also stand back and look on in awe… it’s what I do.