Life never happens the way we think it should. We are often faced with things that had never occurred to us until it actually happens to us. As a full-time wedding photographer, the main bulk of my work is done at home. Working at home has its ups and downs – especially when you add children into the mix. Throw (not literally) an autistic child in there was well & our life plan has drastically been altered. All of our children are absolutely amazing & we love them unconditionally, obviously!! Although, we have had to change the way we do our business & we have had to change who we are as parents. We have had to change who we thought we were going to be as parents & become the parents our children need us to be.
My husband runs a photo booth company and I am a wedding photographer – we are always either out on jobs or at home working. Our daughters, being 10 & 5, are able to understand when mummy & daddy are working – not that it stops the ‘muuuuuum’ or the constant ‘mum, mum, mum, dad, mum, dad’ until someone answers them! Henry, who is 3 & going through an autism diagnosis & is pre-verbal, does not. If he wants or needs something, it has to be right then & there. We can’t kindly say ‘just two seconds honey’ to him. If we don’t attend to his exact needs (which we don’t always understand what they are straight away) then a meltdown ensues. It is a learning curve for all of us & we are getting better at reading the signs of what he wants but sometimes there’s just nothing that can stop a meltdown.
Just because Henry is pre-verbal does not mean we have a quiet house. To be honest, it’s the exact opposite. Stimming is basically a self-stimulatory behaviour that can be a number of different things – hand flapping, repeating words/phrases and so on. Henry’s stimming is shouting/talking in his own way to his favourite toys or his juice cup & it’s loud. Very loud. Some days it’s easier to tune it out & keep working – other days it just impossible.
So what do I do when I really need to get that work done? My husband & I take turns to play & interact with Henry to keep him busy while the other gets to work. I tend to lug my iMac upstairs & take a few hours editing or writing blog posts. Most of the time though, I edit or work at night once all the kids are in bed. I don’t make lists anymore. I know what I need to get done but as our days can be so drastically different with Henry’s moods never being the same, I take each day as it comes.
It’s easy to feel down in the dumps when going through an autism diagnosis. Things rarely go as you would expect them to. There are endless forms to fill in, appointments to get to & never knowing quite what Henry is going to be like on any given day.
It can help having a great network of creative friends to boost you out of a slump if things are rough at home. Right now, as I type, we are having difficulties with Henry’s autism diagnosis (things can’t ever run smoothly can they!) so to be honest, I’ve not even wanted to get out there and shoot. My friends & fellow creatives know that I need a kick up the backside to get myself motivated again which is exactly what they do with their love & support.
To help, I’ve started a daily project over on an Instagram account especially for Henry’s journey. I’m taking a photograph a day of Henry in his day to day life. It’s not only helping other people see what our life is like but it’s helping me – it’s a bit like therapy, only much cheaper!