I’m going to be honest; this new Facebook “How much has life aged you?” challenge annoys me. I take that back, ALL Facebook challenges annoy me and I never participate.
Curiosity did make me scroll all the way back to my 1st ever profile picture, and to my surprise, it was one of my 1st professional photos with Sneak. Because this picture brought back so many memories from that day and time in our lives, I decided to share it.
In my first profile picture (left), Sneak had already been diagnosed with Nonverbal Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder for a little over two years. On that day, she was under the weather, and the next day I found out that she was battling yet ANOTHER double ear infection. (Sneak ended up having ear tubes inserted because she constantly developed ear infections).
Despite knowing that she was not feeling well, I didn’t want to cancel the family picture session. You see, during that time, I held a mindset where I tried to pretend that her autism did not control the majority of our lives, and canceling a prescheduled portrait session would show that it did. (Silly, silly me.)
During that photo session, I realized how much her autism affected eye contact for photos. I remember the teenaged photographer at the photo studio saying “She won’t look at the camera! I’m trying to get her to look at the camera!” Her dad and the photographer continuously sang Sneak’s name in order to get her attention, and once she did focus on the camera, they tried to get her to smile.
I kept asking through my smiling teeth, “Did you get at least one good one?”
This was our “good” one from that session and it is displayed in her bedroom now.
Fast forward 11 years...
We have had many trials as well as triumphs. Sneak was joined by a younger sister, Tap, and eventually we were all joined by my husband and bonus kids.
I’ve accepted that Sneak’s autism does in fact control a lot when it comes to life in general, and I am truly OK with that.
I now also know better than forcing anything when Sneak is just not feeling it. Money has been lost and experiences have been missed, but what matters most is her well-being and comfort.
On the right you see the most recent picture of Sneak & I, taken during our family Christmas portrait session. While I still try to have at least one “good” shot of her looking at the camera, I don’t fret if she doesn’t.
Our stance is still the same: me pulling her in close to me as I wrap my arms around her - which doubles as a tactic to keep her seated as well. We really only have about 4 seconds to snap a picture before she jumps up and twirls around the room again.
I’ve changed a lot over the past 11 years though it may not appear that way outwardly.
What you don’t see now are the sleepless nights and falling tears that pour when I think about her future.
You don’t see the stress that comes when I still, after 11 years in this diagnosis, wonder if I am doing all that I can for her.
That smile though; that smile is the same & its genuine. The fact that I have been blessed with 13 years to hold this lady down in order to take a “good“ photo is wonderful to me and I am thankful for it!