Dylan was the first participant I photographed for the 2016 Stories of Autism gallery. Right after you finish admiring his head full of curly hair, the next thing you’ll notice about Dylan is the music constantly connected to him. He would obediently take the ear buds out when it was time to work, but as soon as the task was done, he would put them back in as soon as he was able. (Bon Jovi was on the playlist this day.)
He was so good-natured, and a delight to photograph. It was a blessing to meet you, Dylan and Colleen!
His mother’s essay follows:
Our Common Tie
Autism. That word alone unites us. While there are varying degrees, being a spectrum disorder and no two individuals alike,there is one common tie. The most difficult, the most devastating for some, communication. Many children and adults with autism are verbal,even the mildest may still have difficulties with body language, with only thinking and/or expressing themselves literally.This can become a barrier in adulthood and the working world.
Then, you have children on the opposite and extreme ‘tie’.The nonverbal children like my own son. Where at the age of eighteen. I see in his eyes his desperation for me to read his mind. For me to understand all his thoughts, feelings, and needs. Which, instinctively, I do to a degree. But, of course I want him to tell me himself. To hear him say he loves me, if he’s happy, in pain, or even if he wants a drink of water.
When at home, I can find it devastatingly difficult to walk the house in silence. No one to listen to, to laugh with.Someone to tell me about their day. It’s a lonely world, I selfishly admit. I talk to my son, sing to him, home school him…
We laugh, we read using sign language. But, after hours of all day working with him, of doing all the initiating to draw attention and interaction, I’m exhausted. I’d give anything to have an evening of my child being a chatterbox. Going on endlessly about a video game, a pretty girl at school, a teacher he likes (or dislikes). I always thought by this age, 18, these would all be reality. Never did I prepare myself for these to become fantasies. A common ‘tie’.
But, like as all, I presume we have the strongest of ties in common, unending belief. I believe one day my son will be my chatterbox one day.It may be verbal, it may be sign language, it may be the written word. His mom, after all, is best with writing her thoughts than speaking them.Maybe that will be the tie that my son and I one day share.
Colleen, Mother of Dylan
To read more about Stories of Autism, click here.
For an introduction to my 2016 Stories of Autism participants, click here.