When I was invited to join the Spectrum Inspired team last year, I instantly knew it would be a meaningful experience, though I admit I was nervous sensing the weight of my responsibility to raise awareness about Autism while documenting families honestly and creatively. I decided I would do as I always do and simply follow my heart to seek out the moments with meaning and beauty. Then I was assigned my first Spectrum Inspired session, and I read their story and smiled inside, so excited for the opportunity to serve this wonderful and deserving family.
When I showed up for Leo's session, my initial intent was to just really see Leo for who he is, appreciating all that makes him unique, and translating that into artful images. And in the highlights from his session below, I hope that is apparent. You will see the enchanting way Leo's beloved objects bring him joy and comfort...his Woody, bubbles, balloons, his oral sensory toy, and his fondness for fetching bread from the refrigerator.
But even beyond getting to know him in the short time we were together, what revealed itself to me unexpectedly and took my breath away was the intense and intimate bond that Leo shares with his parents. A connection that I struggle to describe in words but which is woven throughout these images, the tender and purposeful touches, the warmth and comfort, and the radiant pride for who Leo is and how far he has come. Leo is loved wholly and supported fully, as it should be, yet there is something more that transcends the parental love I have known and witnessed. It is as if Leo is still connected by some energy to the womb, to his safe place, where their fingers connect and instantly his body relaxes, and where he basks in the calm and loving gaze of his mother. A most profound, uncomplicated kind of love. It was a true honor to behold.
When I asked her if she'd like to share her perspective as part of this blog story, Leo's mother responded with these sentiments: My family and I are incredibly grateful that we had the opportunity to share a glimpse into our world through the perspective of such a truly talented photographer. Your genuine warmth, and love for your craft created such a special atmosphere; one that allowed each of us to feel comfortable and at ease throughout the shoot. You captured our life with our son, Leo, who has Autism; his beautiful spirit, and our love for one another in such a raw and honest way. We will forever cherish these images, and be able to look back on these moments and instantly feel that love.
And I, too, will always feel the weight and love of these moments when I look back on the images and remember my morning with Leo.
To learn more about Spectrum Inspired, or to apply for a session, please visit www.spectruminspired.org