You know how when you get a diagnosis, you go through all of those stages of denial, and you start listing all of the reasons he couldn't be autistic to make yourself feel like there is absolutely nothing wrong here? And then, as you start reading things and meeting other people who deal with the same issues that you do, things start clicking and you're left staring numbly into space because you start realizing that all of the "little" things that you've brushed off for so long actually mean something, and then you feel horribly guilty about everything and you should have known all along?
(Nope. Pretty sure it's not just me.)
Photos were one of those click-y things for me. Little C's eye contact, when evaluated by therapists, flunked the test--but not horribly so. With patience and therapy, it came around, and he started really looking at us--checking our reactions when an unexpected situation arose, smiling at us when we'd pick him up at the end of the day.
Photos were something weird, though. When I was taking snapshots of him, I never noticed that he didn't look at the camera. It was only after our diagnosis that I became stunned, looking through photo after photo taken since his birth, and ached--because I had an album full of photos with his face turned away, or down, or with him giving me his back. He was included in one memorable Christmas photo only because the techs at the local studio Photoshopped him in.
They had to snap a picture of him while in my arms, hands planted firmly over his ears.
Since I picked up my "big girl" camera for the first time, I've been attempting to get really memorable photos of him. While he is comfortable around my camera, he's still not overly enthusiastic about looking into the lens for me. His eyes dart up and down, left and right, and while I know that if I set up a protocol for him--set parameters for success, and all of that--I could probably get him to smile and say cheese...I don't really want to.
While it still kind of breaks my heart a little bit to see the contrast of his brother dancing a jig and shooting a cheesy grin at me the second my lens cap comes off, I know that that's just not him. The prospect of forcing it feels wrong, and in the end, I don't want an awkward pose and forced smile out of him.
This weekend, though, I got what I hadn't been able to quite place my finger on. I got what I had wanted to capture, without having quite the words for it.
This is him. Pure, unadulterated him. Face forward, full-on grin in all it's breathtaking glory, captured forever in twenty glorious megapixels on a camera that is proving to be one of the best purchases ever made for me.
You just don't get this kinda stuff on a smart phone.