“Let’s take a picture” is a phrase that our daughter Danielle likes to say. What is special about this is that Danielle is non-verbal, so she uses her electronic augmentative device to communicate. Although Danielle has autism, she is a lot like most young people who enjoy taking selfies. It wasn’t always like this; for years she would be squirming or looking away when a picture was being taken.
With Christmas approaching, many families will be taking pictures. Taking pictures is a good way to show the happiness in your life. It is humorous to see some of Danielle’s shots though — the table top, the ceiling fan, sometimes she gets her subjects in the photo, sometimes not — but she always has a great time of it.
People with autism often have difficulty recognizing the emotions behind various facial expressions. This makes it difficult for them to understand their emotions and the emotions of others. Social interaction and relatedness may suffer as a result. Holidays are a time when families can share their emotions of joy and wonder. Our family likes to visit a nearby church that puts on an elaborate Christmas show each year. When we come to the creche in Bethlehem and stare at the Holy Family in the stable, you can see the joy and wonder in our faces. Danielle’s face lights up too.
So even though it may be difficult for Danielle to read and understand facial expressions, she experiences the same range of emotions as the rest of us. And she knows when she is feeling joy and wonder, and enjoys taking a picture to capture such moments.
It’s nice to see Danielle doing new things like learning to take pictures. It is one creative way she can express herself and have fun at the same time. Her photography skills still have a long way to go, but they are improving little by little. When we least expect it we hear Danielle saying on her electronic communication device “Let’s take a picture.” Sometimes we hear the sound the camera makes. Her pictures may not be perfect, but when we look at them, our hearts skip a beat.
Copyright 2018 Dave and Mercedes Rizzo