In our consultation before the Stories of Autism photoshoot, Noah’s mother mentioned how much he liked to vacuum and assured me that he’d be willing to do it while I was there. She failed to mention his disarming charm.
During our session, while I was photographing him vacuuming, he was insistent that I take a turn with the vacuum. I balanced my camera in my left hand and took the vacuum with the right. I took a few good-natured swipes and tried to give the vacuum back. Noah motioned to the floor and pointed out where I did not get to the edges properly. I chuckled to myself on the absurdity of the situation as I took the vacuum back and re-vacuumed the rug to his liking. Never before had I vacuumed a client’s home…. but never before had I met someone quite like Noah. I guess I should be thankful he didn’t bring me a bucket and mop. One grin from him and we probably would have been scrubbing the kitchen floor together.
The Stories of Autism sessions concentrate on providing a portrait of the child, but when at all possible, I do like to include the parents. I was thankful that Noah’s mom was willing to be photographed – they have such fun together. In the series, they are playing hide and seek, and Noah was cracking up while finding his mom.
The essay below is from his mother, Teresa:
Our Boy Noah
Oh boy where do I start? There is so much to say about Noah and our journey I could write a novel. I think I will just tell you a bit about our sweet boy instead. Noah is now nineteen years old. He is still in high school and loves it! Noah has severe autism so for the most part has the mind of a small child. Our whole family has learned a great deal from him. Noah has taught us an amount of patience we never thought possible. Noah is limited verbally and has a hard time expressing his feelings which can sometimes lead him to frustration and the occasional melt down. Noah was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of ten. This was a huge challenge for him and the rest of the family. Even though the beginning of that chapter was extremely hard he is now a champ at finger pokes and multiple daily shots.
Noah is sweet and pure. He is honest and non judgmental. He loves trains, especially Thomas and Chuggington. Noah enjoys watching YouTube videos with random people vacuuming, garbage trucks and semi-truck shows. His favorite thing has to be vacuuming. He vacuums every single day and would do so for hours if you let him. Noah loves music and will sometimes break out his hip shaking moves, and of course we all start dancing with him. Noah has an absolutely contagious smile and laughter to go with it.
We were told Noah would never speak. He sure proved the doctors wrong there. He has many words. Even though he can’t hold “normal” conversations, he has many words and ways to communicate when he really wants to. For years I thought I would never hear the words every parent longs to hear, I love you. I can’t remember the exact day I got to hear them but I will never forget how I felt. He said, “I muh you mama.” He still says it and I still cherish every word……every time.
Teresa, Mother of Noah
Genoa City, Wisconsin
To read more about Stories of Autism, click here.
For an introduction to my 2016 Stories of Autism participants, click here.