This post is by Robert Diaz, a photographer who has a young son on the autism spectrum.
Today I will take you on a journey through the eyes of a child with autism.
Earlier this year, I purchased a camera for my business to take some product photography for my blog and website.
I wanted to learn how to use the camera like a pro since it cost me pro money.
I started to take pictures of everything around me - flowers, sunsets and so on. I knew ever since my son was diagnosed with autism that he would not make eye contact for longer than two to three seconds at a time - at least with me because Lord knows he can play his minions game all day if I let him.
I started to take him out and take pictures of him and I realized he really doesn’t like to make eye contact with anything. I would point to my eye and say, “Elijah, where are your eyes?” He would point to his eye and say, “here Daddy” and look away avoiding the lens and the camera in all as he got frustrated and sensitive.
It was a task to get one picture with him looking directly into the lens for a good photo.
I didn’t quit though. I would take the camera with me to pick him up from school and take at least three pictures of him while trying to get him to look into the camera.
Slowly but surely, within 1 month I noticed he was actually looking into the lens longer and I was able to get good shots of him!
He then began to look at the playback and say, “that’s me Daddy!”
I knew that the camera was allowing him to be more confident in himself and allowing his mind to focus on the camera for longer periods of time. He does get frustrated after five to 10 pictures. He still has his shyness of looking at me when I speak. I do direct him and say, “Look at me and when people speak to you, look into their eyes.”
I do believe that a camera can help get kids with autism out of that shell and make them more comfortable, by showing them what they can do if they focus and apply themselves for longer periods of time.
I have gotten a firsthand experience on what a camera can do for a child with autism and I am so glad life happened to teach me this way. My last shoot with him is what made me reach out and share my photo because of the intention behind his mind and because he allowed me to see what he sees by one hand gesture.
He simply put one hand over his eye hiding half his face and squinting the other eye. “Is that how you want to pose?” I said. “Yea,” he replied, so I took the photo. When I got home and edited the photos, I realized that this moment was truly one of those moments that shows that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
I realized this is how he is comfortable being looked at and the way he wants us to see life how he sees it and not how we might push him to see it. It allows him to be autistic and special in his own way.