Do you carefully select which photos based on whether or not you can “see the Autism”?

My wife and I took some photos in the backyard this week-end, she wanted to try to get group shots right without having someone be out of focus… this meant that I had to get my 2 boys in close with me for some family photos.

As we went through the dozen or so photos, we settled on two pictures that were ok and put those online. But even out of those two, we only ever really used one of them… I use it for my Facebook profile picture right now.

We’ve always done it but it wasn’t until this week-end that we really started to put some serious thought into it.

On one hand, we want these pictures to look back on and we want to see the wonderful little boy as we always see him, a regular kid living his life as he should. And being rather well versed in Autism now, we know that later we’d look back and go “oh… yeah… you can see the Autism so clearly”.

On the other hand, is it kind of deceiving, or even lying? To be showing these pictures to everyone as if to say “this is it, there’s nothing more.. no other pictures.”

I like to think that we all do it, right? Bad hair pics, blinking, food in our teeth, acne breakouts, gut hanging out the wrong way…. we pick the best pics of the best and share those ones. It’s quite a natural thing to do, we want to look our best.

Still though, I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something wrong when I do it. I love that I can put a smile on people’s faces when they see this great kid being happy and being a kid… but I feel like I’m not telling the whole story too.

On the flip side, almost every photo I see online where you can blatantly “see the Autism” is usually accompanied with some caption like “Can you tell which child is Autistic?” and that kind of bothers me. They say that you can’t just see that a child is Autistic like you can some other disorders/disabilities but as parents we know, if you take a hand full of pictures, you’ll see it.

I think I could talk in circles about this for a very long time, trying to convince myself the goods vs the bads…

This post wouldn’t be complete without some examples, so I’ll use the two I mentioned earlier.

Cameron, Tyler, Stuart

Notice Cameron's jaw pushed forward, hand sitting awkward, awkward hug...

It’s so subtle and yet, so glaringly obvious. Keep in mind that this is one of two that made the final cut out of more than dozens. And in comparison, the next photo, which is the one I used on Twitter and Facebook.

Nice smile, just a natural part of the picture

You can see how much of a small difference there really is but when you know what you’re looking for, or avoiding in this case, it’s a big difference. And as I said, I feel like I’m not telling the story accurately by favouring one photo over another, but I just can’t see myself changing that. I choose the better photo because that’s what I do, that’s what everyone does.

Do you find yourself choosing the photos where you don’t “see the Autism”?

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.


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