Stories Of Autism & Firefly Nights Photography

In December, Lucas was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We found out about this wonderful non-profit, Stories of Autism, that is “dedicated to heightening autism awareness through the exhibition of its portraits and stories of children and adults on the autism spectrum.” They match children who have Autism to a local photographer to tell the children’s stories through a picture and we were matched with Megan of Firefly Nights Photography.

I was kind of nervous because our last experience {at a department store photography studio} was an absolute disaster. My children were antsy and didn’t want to sit still which made it difficult to get a good picture but, even worse, was the negative attitude of the photographer. Every minute or so she’d make a comment or disgusted noise every time my 3 year old son moved. Not only did she do this in front of our family but she made the comments loud enough for people outside the room to hear. I was embarrassed and furious at the behavior of this so called “manager” of the studio so I finally just blurted out that they had special needs. It stopped the constant stream of comments on her end and I got a “sorry, I didn’t know”. I was so upset that, after over 3 and a half years of going to the same photography studio, I never returned to get pictures taken there again. I even received a coupon for free portraits as an “apology” from their corporate office but my experience was so horrible that I don’t intend to use it. I didn’t want anything free. I just wanted assurance that these photographers would receive training on dealing with children who had special needs so no family would ever have to go through what ours went through.

I didn’t know that there were photographers out there who specialized in taking pictures of children who have special needs.

After being matched with Megan I looked through her site and saw that she took stunning pictures. That was wonderful but what really excited me was that she had experience working with children who had special needs and was the mother of one herself. Even more reassuring was the contract that I had to sign that had a rule saying parents could not apologize for their child’s behavior. It was comforting to know that I was not going to have to stress out if Lucas didn’t sit still or if he had a meltdown. She would understand because she’s been there, too.

On St. Patrick’s Day we headed over to her photography studio. My mom came with so she could help with Jacob while Lucas was getting his pictures taken. The Firefly Nights Studio was nice and spacious and Megan encouraged my two little sensory seekers to run from one end of the room to the other while we got set up. Deciding that it would be tough to get pictures of Lucas while his brother was there my mom took Jacob out for a walk. We started with trying to take pictures of Lucas jumping on the bed but he didn’t want to do that. Megan did get some great shots of him on the bed laying down. Here’s one of them:

Megan was very patient and had no problem switching up what she was doing depending on Luke’s cues. She didn’t try to force any poses {which my little opinionated Lucas would not have allowed anyways}. Eventually he ended up sitting on a crate in another part of the studio, eating a lollipop and playing with a box of band-aids. Megan assured me that she could edit some of the shots so those distractions wouldn’t be in the pictures. She ended up with a beautiful photo to send in for Stories of Autism that I absolutely love. You can see which image she chose over in her blog post.

I am so thankful for Megan donating her time to Stories of Autism. I wanted to share that she also does something special for Autism Awareness Month in April. She has two days that she offers mini sessions to families with no session fee and no minimum order. April 14th she is offering sittings for children with Autism and on April 22nd she is having “sibling day” and taking pictures of children who have a sister or brother on the spectrum. You can learn more about these very special days on Megan’s blog. Sessions are filling up fast (if not full already) so make sure to contact her as soon as you can.

If you take your child, with special needs or not, to Firefly Nights Photography I’d love to hear about your experience and see the pictures you get taken!

(Disclosure: My son received a free photography session and we are receiving a disk of images since we visited through Stories Of Autism. I was not compensated to write a post about our experience but I wanted to because we had such an amazing experience and I want other families in the Chicago area to know that getting pictures taken of their special needs children can be a great experience.)

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7 thoughts on “Stories Of Autism & Firefly Nights Photography

  1. That is a beautiful picture! I love that this photographer stayed calm and went with what your son was doing. Kids pick up so quickly when someone is annoyed with them, and when they don’t know how to fix it they just get more annoying. I can see the calm come through in that picture!

  2. That is beyond awesome. I had no idea that was there or available, but … I’m definitely going to check it out. We have VERY few “professional” portraits. Mister Man last year was on the opposite side where there was a project for special needs children to TAKE photographs of things they cared about, things that made them cry, things they couldn’t live without, etc that was turned into a book along wiht the photos exhibiting periodically. It’s been awesome – I love hearing happy stories like this!

  3. I had no idea that this organization existed! I have never taken Liam to a professional photographer because he hates being told what to do and hates standing still… he’s had a few shots done at school for picture day but nothing of any great length… I signed up to see if we could be part of it!

    PS – I am doing a big Autism Month event in April and would love to have you guest post about something ASD related if you are interested!

  4. I won’t take my child out to eat even though i have other children. Everything we do is with the thought of how our child is going to act out in public. It’s very stressful when people give you dirty lookd like control your child or they make comments. One of the last times we ate out and people were upset with us I yelled at them that my child has special needs. No I didn’t do that in front of her, she was already on her way to the car but I could only take so much of people being rude. Most days we stay at home and that’s not healthy for any of us. So I’m going to see if they have a place here in phoenix. I’d like photos to go with the other kids but can’t handle the stress of handling my littlest one by myself. I’m a single mother and my other child works now on top of school. So many times I feel so overwhelmed and very alone

  5. I have a fourteen and a half year old daughter with autism. I remember the days when people would stare at us with disgust. Parents do need to take certain outings into consideration in light of their autistic child’s coping skills (noise, lights, etc.). One thing I am glad I learned was to forget about worrying about what others thought, said, etc. I have some pretty horrifying stories of how sales clerks, friends, and the general public treated us. Realize you were given a special privilege to raise a special child and those critics couldn’t have handled it!! Just smile at them and go about your business. I do think in some settings, such as the department store photography studio, a parent should share the child’s
    needs up front so a better understanding is established right away. After that, expectaions should not be held so high. We don’t have professional pictures during certain stages. I am glad this parent found someone!

  6. If any of you are in Brevard County Florida, the Viera theatre, RAVE, has quarterly special needs films where you can bring your own snacks, they lower the sound and the lights of the film so it is less “in your face” and loud. It is usually whatever is the kids movie playing at that time, so it is a recent movie and not a leftover from last years inventory.

    I work sometimes with the families who have autistic children, and also visit some group homes with autistic children. The patience and understanding of the family members and the staff is amazing. They are some of my favorite visits as the families and staff seem to care more and be more involved with their children.

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