Autism and a Trip to the Photographer

Every new mother knows that family, friends, and work colleagues all expect to see pictures of the new baby. So the new mother dutifully trudges her sleep deprived self off to the photographer for pictures. As the years progress things get easier with the exception of the toddler/preschooler years. Children wear cute little outfits, hair is neatly brushed and shoes are carefully selected.

Mother despite not being in the picture puts on a crisp clean outfit brushes her hair and teeth. Puts on matching shoes and purse and slips into her slightly messy but still stylish car. As she arrives at the photographers she sees another mother. A mother in a dirty shirt, messy hair, and large black circles under her eyes with a screaming toddler. The well dressed mother sits with her quiet children and leaves with perfectly nice pictures. Her children are well posed and spotless. She does not say a word to the other mother quietly thinking to herself good discipline does wonders and that woman must not…….in short be a good mother.

The morning of the photography shoot begins with waking up. First the child must be given his breakfast and vitamins. Then the child must be bathed and dressed. Keep in mind this involves screaming for food and screaming as you put the child in the tub and out of the tub. Then more screaming as hair is brushed. Let us not forget any other children that must be fed washed and changed/taken potty. When all that is done the kitchen must be cleaned then mom gets to get dressed. With a bit of luck the time comes to brush my own teeth. Soon it is time to put the shoes on both children and to try to put 2 small children into car seats. So carefully the baby is put in the car seat while holding the hand of the toddler. Finally both children are in the car seats and safe. The drive to the photographer is uneventful.

Getting out of the car involves putting the baby in her stroller and taking a backpack then holding the toddlers hand as we slowly walk to the photographers. As we walk into the photographer the toddler begins to get anxious and fuss. Carefully you sit down with the baby and toddler but he begins to look around and spots a television. He begins pushing buttons over and over. Then he begins trying to run away and finally he spots the computer on the shelf and begins pushing the drawer where the keyboard is located. He begins opening it and closing it. As the sales clerk gives you a black look. The phone rings and you wait despite having arrived on time. He pounds the keyboard and keeps returning to the keyboard despite you putting on a movie for him. The other mothers look at you distastefully.

You carefully bring your screaming child over to sit near you and ask if they are ready. The salesclerk puts her hand over the phone and looks at you. In a moment Mam she says.

Finally we are taken back for the photographer to take his pictures. She sets up the scenes but he won't smile or sit in the scene instead he goes to the computer. The look in his eyes when I put him back in the perfect scene is fear. He is terrified of the artificial scene and the toys that go along with it. Finally he relaxes and we get a picture of him playing with a blanket…playing peek a boo. He's smiling. There are no cute props there are no cute backgrounds just my child who was terrified of all that and a blanket smiling and playing a game of peek a boo. We go out and he tries to run away from me and the baby. I catch him and pay while holding his hand the pen and keeping a knee on the stroller.

The woman sitting and waiting to do her photos looks at me and shakes her head in disgust. I don't care I walk out of there with a treasure more precious than gold. My little boy is smiling.

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