Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month.  Like I’ve said before, I love when my worlds of photography and occupational therapy can come together.  Meet my friend Andrew.  His mom, Maria, would like to tell you a little about him:

“My little angel has brought light to our lives for 6 1/2 years.  We notice he was different because he didn’t sit by himself at 6 months old, he started to crawl around 91/2 months old, and he didn’t walk until he was 19 months.  We started to notice he wasn’t looking at us or talking to us.  At age 3 he was diagnosed with Autism, it was the worst day our lives. I never thought that something could hurt that much, but it did.  We felt fear and pain.  I lost every hope when the doctor told me he will not talk, he will not be able to be like the kids his age.  My heart was broken…Until we heard someone say that God gives special kids to special parents and  I understood that God chose us because he trusts us to take care of one of his purest and and most precious children, my son Andrew.
He didn’t have more than 6 words in his vocabulary until I went to Masachussests for the SonRise Program to be trained as a parent to work with my son.  We worked with him Monday trough Sunday every day for several months and his vocabulary grew to more than 300 words.  He has known the 50 states since he was 4.  He also started learning to add, to spell, and to count at that age.  The progress was hard but our motivation was looking at him growing and at least saying his needs, he was playing with us, he was looking at us more, and we were starting to connect with each other.
We have angels coming to the house starting with Mary Huszsca as his OT , then Debra Rains as his ST,  and then his lovely ABA therapists Susan and Amantha.  These ladies believed in Andrew and now he continues to progress with their help.
Yes, he is different, but he has a golden heart.  He hugs us and kisses us and he is very lovely.  It is still hard to look at other kids his age.  It  is hard to live with autism.  Some people don’t understand that living with autism is hard.  It is hard for the family,  it is hard for the person who lives with autism-both trying to be in a world that doesn’t understand them. Ignorance is everywhere, but my hope is that people will learn to respect and help families with autism.  Some people see Andrew and think he’s just a kid with bad behavior…”you don’t know how to handle your own child” “you are a bad parent because he is acting like that because you let him.” I see them looking, but I don’t get the chance to say “His sensory system works differently than yours-he’s overstimulated because there’s so much noise and sound right now.”  I don’t get a chance to say “He has a communication disorder and he’s frustrated right now because he can’t put a sentence together to tell me what he’s upset about.”
He is different and I  just try to go into his world and slowly bring him to mine.
I love my son with all my heart and I will never change any part of the autism journey with him.  I  love every single moment of being his mom, and I enjoy every little step that he makes because is an accomplishment of mine.
I love you Andrew from the bottom of my heart and we will always be with you to help you and protect you because you are our gift from God to us.  I love you baby boy.”
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My Muse | Jacksonville Fl Photographer

My muse.  My little girl.  This girl who’s growing up so quickly.  She makes me laugh, she makes me want to pull my hair out, she makes me feel like the best mother in the world, she makes me feel like the worst mother in the world, she makes me question every decision I make, she pushes me to answer questions that I have to dig really deep to find answers for, she dances, she sings, she argues, she fights…..all of this in the course of one day. She simply amazes me.

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Trisomy Awareness Month | Kaleb

Some of you may know that, in addition to being a photographer, I’m a pediatric occupational therapist. I love it when my two worlds come together like they did with sweet Kaleb. Last spring I had the opportunity to photograph this amazing family and I wanted to share their session with you today, in particular, because today is the last day of Trisomy Awareness Month. Kaleb was diagnosed at birth with Trisomy 13. You can read a more about what that is here: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/trisomy-13

Needless to say that this little guy has defied many odds and is a blessing to all those who have the opportunity to spend time with him. Not only is he a blessing, but so are his parents. They’re an incredible source of inspiration for many people. To learn more about Kaleb and his journey go and check out the FB page his mom started to tell his story: https://www.facebook.com/kalebsjourney?fref=ts

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Jacksonville Lifestyle Photography | Phoebe

Sweet Phoebe is turning 2 and I had the absolute pleasure of spending a morning playing with her in her home. I love these lifestyle sessions so much because being at home just makes little ones so much more at ease. When they’re comfortable, their true little spirits and personalities come shining through.
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