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Girl with Autism's Lost Doll Travels the World

This guest blog post is from Jennifer Smoloff, a mother of two and amatuer photographer. Her daughter Delilah has autism and last year lost a prized possession - her doll Clawdeen. She recently celebrated her 7th birthday and got a big surprise thanks to the kindness of strangers around the world. Read the original story here and check out her special gift in the video below.

I am blessed with two amazing children, a mischievous and inquisitive 15-month-old son named Jackson and an extraordinary seven-year-old diva who happens to have autism named Delilah.   My diva is a larger than life character that loves the color purple.  Delilah and I began a magical mother daughter journey this past summer when I joined a Facebook group for the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day (FMS PAD) challenge.  On July 12, 2013 I introduced my diva to a loving group of photo takers from around the world.  I shared the joys and challenges of raising a child with autism and I met other parents and grandparents with special needs children.  

Taking photos of Delilah has always been difficult.  My diva would refuse to look at the camera or become upset in the presence of a camera.  I had almost given up on taking photos of the extraordinary Delilah.   Doing the FMS PAD challenge turned photo taking into a fun and creative game.  Many times the diva would pose for photos relating to the daily prompt.  I started collaborating with Delilah on photos and she would provide me with creative ideas. 

Delilah has always been observant and detail-oriented and would constantly remind me of the beauty all around us.  Her mind and creative process were being revealed and I started seeing more glimpses of Delilah’s beautiful and intricate world.  I had always wanted a way to connect with Delilah and now I had a gained a best friend and a muse.  Daily photos became a way to share my love and acceptance of my extraordinary daughter with the world.

August 29, 2013 was a special day for this mother and daughter team.  Four photos are featured each day in the FMS PAD group.  Delilah and I were given a gift of her triumphant photo in a beautiful collage that morning.  Tears of joy filled my eyes as I saw my diva making superb eye contact with a huge smile for the world to see.  Hundreds of group members applauded Delilah and the progress she had made in her photos.  There was no sign of the insecure girl with slouched shoulders who would beg me not to take her photo.

Over the past eight months, Delilah has become a celebrity in FMS PAD.   Sharing her adventures in Brooklyn and creative ideas has been an amazing experience.  Through the love and support of the group, I started a conversation with my diva about her autism and how her mind is uniquely beautiful and complex.  Delilah lost a doll named Clawdeen on Labor Day 2013.  I shared Delilah’s sorrow and frustration with my remarkable FMS PAD group.  The angels of my group designed a loving way to reunite Delilah with her beloved Clawdeen.  They even created blogs to detail the doll’s travels throughout the world.  Delilah’s dreams have been coming true and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for my diva. 

Watch Delilah thank the woman in Australia who helped her get back her prized possession in the video below.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.