Autistic children have a unique way of perceiving the world. They often have overactive perception, memory, and attentional processes that manifest as sensitivity to sensory stimuli. The ways autistic children have learned to adapt to their perception of an intense world are easily misunderstood. Photographer Timothy Archibald began photographing his autistic son to capture the unique way he interacted with the world around him. Photography can be a valuable creative way to connect with your autistic child.
Children on the spectrum often struggle with understanding the desires, intentions, and beliefs of others, which can make it difficult to connect with others. Due to sensory sensitivity, they are often hyperaware of their own emotions and feel things intensely, but find it harder for them to communicate to others how they are feeling. They may also be more likely to assume that their emotions are universal and that other people have similar emotional experiences. Difficulty reading context clues, like facial expressions, impact their ability to accurately guess what other people may be feeling. They may struggle with knowing how to ask appropriate questions that would help them understand other people’s perspectives.
Activities, like photography, offer a visual format for your autistic child to practice perspective-taking. As they may find it hard to imagine how other people perceive them, photography helps them take a step back and look at themselves through someone else’s eyes. It can be a useful tool for building self-awareness and
Embracing Their Uniqueness
Many teens with autism feel socially isolated, misunderstood, and struggle with low self-esteem. Photography is a way for them to be seen and to feel less invisible around others. Looking at photos can be a great way to encourage them to talk about what they see by connecting to memories, examining their facial expressions, and appreciating the beauty of the work that they may not be able to do in the moment or when they are overwhelmed.
Timothy Archibald explains, “I never wanted my son to think he was ‘normal.’ I wanted him to be aware of how different he was and see that as an asset.” While it can be difficult for teens to internalize positive messages they hear about themselves, photography is a tangible reminder that these things are true that speaks to them in a language they can better understand. This encourages them to honor their personal experiences rather than comparing them to other people’s.
Bonding Over Creativity
His portrait project began as a way to highlight his son’s social withdrawal, but as his collection grew, he gained a greater appreciation of his son’s quirks and learned how to release his desire to control situations as a photographer and a parent. Empowering his son to take the lead in the project allowed them to bond over their shared interest in photography and helped them strengthen their relationship.
Various forms of artistic expression are often used in family therapy to improve communication and perspective-taking. Creative activities, like photography, painting, or drawing are a great way to connect with your autistic child that don’t require a lot of social pressure.
Seven Stars Can Help
Seven Stars RTC is a residential program for teens ages 13-17 struggling with Autism-related issues. The program provides acute care stabilization, residential treatment, academic programs, adventure-based therapy, skill-building, and positive psychology. These various programs and therapies help students to improve their confidence, self-awareness, and emotion regulation. Seven Stars provides students with individualized access to the resources they need to transition to the real-world practicing healthier habits and self-control.
Contact us at 844-601-1167 for more information. We can help your family today!
Since 2003, Dr. Gordon Day has passionately helped young people with a wide range of family, emotional, social, neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Gordon’s mission has been to help people find their strengths and their own passion for living a full and rewarding life. He is particularly sensitive to the pressures, frustrations and disappointments that adolescents face that can sometimes cause them and their loved ones to want to withdraw and throw their hands up in despair.
Dr. Day knows that you really have to understand where a student is coming from and understand their patterns of strengths and needs. When we truly know an individual and their struggles, only then can we truly help.
Dr. Day has pioneered the use of outdoor therapy activities and outdoor living as a dynamic and effective therapeutic tool for learning, confidence building and skill building. His programs provide effective, supportive and encouraging environments that help students find their strengths and power.