I call her “Girlie Girl”~ “Girlie” for short. She loves sparkle, the color pink, dresses and glitter. My beautiful niece is on the Autism Spectrum. Her disability was diagnosed at age four. She was very insular, didn’t respond when you called her name~ she was in her own world. At the time, it was hard to imagine she would ever come out of that little bubble.
Over the years I have enjoyed observing her quiet moments; moments she’s painting, or simply playing, wondering what goes on in that beautiful mind, and capturing those reflective moments with my camera. In this particular photo, the sepia tone felt just right for this quiet moment in time.
The Kiss is one of my favorite shots. My niece is a carbon copy of my sister-in-law, and l love this way the shapes of their lips mirror each other. There is a softness and timelessness in this moment that called for simplicity of black and white. The moment stays still and intimate.
She loves the camera, and takes every opportunity to get in front of a lens. With limited communication skills, the camera is a perfect way for her to express herself. I love snapping the shots, and she loves being in front of the camera. Immediately after the camera clicks, she just has to see the shot. Because the camera gives her an ideal form of expression, I allow her to use mine. It is especially for this reason I am happy I can share with her my passion for photography.
Girlie has truly blossomed since age four. Thankfully, my sister-in-law has a degree in Special Education, my brother is kind, patient and wrapped around her finger. She has a twin brother, and older twin brothers who are great with her, yet don’t handle her with kid-gloves. She can hold her own. I have a background in education, so when Girlie is with me, every moment is fun learning time.
She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. Do you want to get married? “No, I want to be a veterinarian.” She’s focused, and determined. I can’t predict that some day she’ll attend college; as I wouldn’t have predicted she’d ever leave her little bubble. However, I do believe her appetite for learning will lead her to work in an environment that nurtures animals.
I have complete faith my Girlie Girl niece will find, and trail-blaze her own way. She is independent, loving, generous, funny, and interested in all that surrounds her.
Spectrum, for me, means rainbow, not disability. It’s an opportunity to see unexpected colors. Girlie Girl is a beam, a shining star. There are sparks of light wherever she goes.
Moment of Truth: the camera captures things the eye sometimes misses, giving one pause to observe, reflect and see the full spectrum of the rainbow.