In all of the years that we’ve done maternity photography, baby photography, and family photography, we’ve met a lot of people in a lot of unique situations. Now we’d like to bring awareness to some of that uniqueness.
Not everyone is the same, so it’s important for each of us to get to know one another. This world can be an ugly place, but the more we understand about one another, the more we can all help each other. So, if your situation is unique but you feel alone, it’s so important to know that you’re actually NOT alone!
Mom of a child with special needs - Isabel’s Story
A few years ago, I (Stephany) photographed Isabel for her maternity session, and I recently heard her birth story. I asked her to share it so that all of us can talk openly about this topic. Here it is below.
Stephany: Please tell us about some of the challenges that you’ve faced as a mom with a child of special needs.
Isabel: I don’t really know how to start this, but I know it’s something that I need to do to spread awareness on this issue. My son Anthony was diagnosed with a learning disability called Fragile X syndrome. It’s similar to autism but not exactly. We were told that you can have autism and Fragile X syndrome at the same time, but his doctor wanted to wait six more months for an exact diagnosis. Regardless, my son will need me for the rest of his life.
S: When did you first sense that something was wrong?
I: We had some complications at birth. He spent a week in the NICU on oxygen due to him not breathing. But as he started to grow, I noticed that he wasn’t hitting the necessary milestones a baby should have. He hated being on his tummy and sitting up, and he never rolled over or crawled. My family and close friends, even doctors, kept telling me he would reach his milestones on his own time and at his own pace. But something in my gut kept telling me that something is wrong.
When he was about three months old, I took him to his pediatrician who referred us to ECI [Early Childhood Intervention Services], which offered us physical and occupational therapy. Because Anthony never rolled or basically never moved from a laying position, the back of his head became flat, and I knew I needed to take action. We got him a helmet to correct and help shape his skull, and he kept it on for eight months until his second birthday. After a while, I knew that it was more than him “just taking his time,” and the doctor finally referred us to a genetics specialist for blood work. After seven long months of waiting, the results came back. My son had a rare learning disability called Fragile X syndrome.
My son walked when he was two years old, and until this day, he has never babbled and has never spoken a word. He is in and out of hospitals, and they are constantly running tests on him. The doctors told me that he may never speak but not to get discouraged. He turned three recently.
S: You are so brave to help your son through his challenges. How do these challenges affect your everyday life?
I: I’d like to give you an idea of what it’s like to have a child with a learning disability who is nonverbal. My son screams out of excitement, out of frustration, because he’s hungry, because he needs help, or just because that’s the only way he can communicate. My everyday life consists of a lot of screaming and crying. Everywhere I go, I get dirty looks from adults and whispers. One time, I stormed out of a restaurant without even eating (at the time, I didn’t know about my son’s disability). I got so overwhelmed at the thought that people were being so ugly to a child and myself.
My son is very socially awkward, doesn’t understand social cues, and doesn’t understand the concept of toys. He still puts anything and everything in his mouth. He doesn’t engage in playing with other children; he simply just enjoys watching other kids have fun. One day, we were at McDonald’s and Anthony got close to a family who was eating. Because of his disability, he just stood there staring at them. The lady tells her son, “Look, son, he’s staring at us like he’s never been fed before.” I got so angry, I grabbed Anthony and we left. I choose not to scream or get defensive with other adults in front of my boy because his sensitivity. I just choose to be mature and walk away.
Children often tell him or ask me, “Why does he scream so much?” Or they say, “Go away,” and push him or “Shut up!” I understand that they are just children, but parents usually don’t ever say anything about it. I cry out of anger and think to myself, If my son had AUTISM stamped on his forehead or if he had facial features that made him look different, I know that parents would be so much nicer to him, or they would tell their children to be kind.
S: How awful! Some people can just be horrible.
I: This world is a very cruel place, but even with his disability, my son is very smart. He’s sweet, funny, and goofy! He loves to share, and his favorite thing to do is listen to music and dance. He is currently going to Monkey Mouths for occupational, physical, and speech therapy four times a week and has progressed a lot! He has learned seven signs in sign language. I tell my baby every night before we go to bed, “I love you, Mijo. You’re a very smart baby! Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise because you’re different.”
S: That sounds wonderful. A lot of people can learn from your story.
I: I think we need to learn to be kind again to one another! You don’t know the struggles of the people around you. Rather than giving ugly looks, give a smile and be encouraging!
S: That is so true. What would you say to moms like you who have children with special needs?
I: If you have a child with a disability, remind yourself every day that GOD sent YOU that baby! He didn’t send it to your neighbor or your sister or your friend. He chose YOU for a reason that’s much bigger than you’ll ever understand at the moment! I accepted that, and I try my best to love, protect, and guide him as much as I possibly can, as long as my heart is beating!
What’s Your Story?
We’re so thankful for Mamas like Isabel who are willing to bravely share their stories. Do you have a story that might encourage other moms? If so, please contact us here! We’d love to share your story.
Since we’re experts in maternity photography, baby photography, and family photography, we’ve had experience in working with children who have special needs. So, we’re familiar with a few baby photography tips for parents.
If you Google “newborn photography near me,” you might not find the safest or the most experienced photographer right away. But here you are: You’ve found us! Photographing children with special needs requires an extra bit of patience and sensitivity, and we have that.
Our Photography Qualifications and Practices
Stephany will be a great fit for your maternity photography, newborn photography, or family photography session. She has certification specifically in newborn safety from Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International (APNPI) and has taken quite a few classes in newborn safety. If you’re looking for maternity photography tips, newborn photography tips, or family photography tips, you can count on Stephany!
Baby photography is a very delicate business, so safe photography practices come with the territory. At our studio, we keep a sanitized environment where all accessories are washed after every session. Before photographing your baby, we inspect all props (especially wooden props and glass props) to make sure that they’ll be 100% safe to use with your baby. So, rest assured that your special needs child will be safe with us during all newborn photography and family photography sessions.
In addition to all of that, we’re constantly educating ourselves and making improvements to what we do. You can never be too careful when handling a precious little baby!
Baby Photography Tips for Parents and Other Ideas
Of course, oftentimes, parents do not know if their child will have special needs until long after he or she is born. We understand this, and we will always use the utmost care when we are working with you.
Many of our clients come to us for all of their photography needs: maternity photography, newborn photography, and family photography. If you encounter any specific health situations during any stages of your child’s life, of course contact your pediatrician for any and all health questions. If you have any medical needs that we’ll need to be aware of during any photo session, please let us know, and we’ll work with you to accommodate anything that you need! We’d love to discuss any and all specifics about your situation during your design consultation.
Here’s another newborn photography tip: Maybe you’ve adopted a child with special needs and would like to do a photo session. What a great idea! You could do a newborn photography session with just your baby and also a family photography session with Mom, Dad, baby, and maybe also Grandma and Grandpa!
If your special needs child has older siblings, a family portrait would be a wonderful addition to your home! After we’ve finished your newborn photo session, baby’s Dad and siblings can come and meet you at our studio in Hickory Creek, Texas, for the family photo session. (If you’re doing a newborn session, we highly encourage the rest of the family to come for their session toward the end—because newborn sessions can last for several hours.)
To discuss more photography tips and ideas that are specific to your family, contact us here to schedule a session!
Whether your story is similar to Isabel’s or whether you’re mainly just interested in baby photography tips for parents, we hope you gained a new understanding by reading this article. If you’d like to read more of our clients’ stories, check us out on social media!
And contact us here to book your photo session!