In a lot of ways, my second Spectrum Inspired session was the same as my first.

Just like the last session, I was photographing a boy named Blake. Like the first session, Blake’s autism has a big effect on his family’s life. And like before, Blake’s family wanted photos of him that show his personality, and happy memories they can look back on.

But they have very different personalities. It’s easy to see why people with autism are on a spectrum. Blake is non verbal, but is very outgoing. He is drawn to noises and lights, and doing anything that means he can burn off energy.

For more information on Spectrum Inspired or to apply for a free session for your family, click here

Blake’s stepmom Andree applied for their Spectrum Inspired session. She explained to me that as a blended family, they have had to overcome some challenges. She had to get to know Blake, and he had to get used to having her around.

“I was nervous to meet Blake as I didn’t know what to expect and I knew us getting along would be imperative to my future with his dad,” she said in her application. “When we first met he immediately took my hand and motioned to help him play and I couldn’t believe he was already communicating with me. We are now what I consider the best of friends and I can’t imagine my life without him.”

The one thing that I learned right away after meeting Blake was that he is a happy boy with lots of love to give.

“Blake is a very loveable child, he’s always smiling and loves to dance to music,” she told me. “He is very kind and loves cuddles and giving hugs. He’s very funny and bubbly.”

When I arrived at their house, he was shy for about three minutes and then grabbed my hand to lead me to show me his toys. Andree was a bit surprised that he took to me so quickly, but I could tell right away that we would be buddies.

We hung out at their house for a while as I got to know them, taking photos as we chatted. Then we packed up Blake’s baby brother in the stroller and went for a walk at his school’s playground.

Blake didn’t stop smiling the whole time I was there. He was so happy, excited to try every slide and show me everything he could do. I couldn’t help but smile too.

He just filled me with so much joy.

This session gave me a renewed drive to do more like this. Meeting Blake taught me that children on the spectrum are so wonderful, special and deserve all the love in the world. I want to give families like Blake’s memories of their child’s incredible personalities. Daily life can be challenging for them, I know, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a life worth documenting. It’s all just so beautiful.

I am so grateful to Andree and Matt for welcoming me into their home to meet Blake and capture their day. It was just like any other afternoon, but it definitely had an impact on me.

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Cuba 2016