People with Special Needs | Whitby Photography

Hi, I’m Lori, and I specialize in photographing people with special needs for Whitby photography. Whether you are a person with special needs yourself, or someone who is caring for one, this blog post will give tips to help make your Whitby photography session more comfortable and successful. These tips can be applied to any type of Whitby photography session not just sessions with people with special needs!

People With Special Needs | Whitby Photography | Colten

This blog post is about my son Colten’s autism journey and how that has helped me with photographing people with special needs. I have an amazing 4-year-old son, named Colten who has autism. He is my life, the apple of my eye and I love him so much! I am so proud of his accomplishments. But he also has special needs which can make it difficult for him to do things that neurotypical people take for granted. One of those things is a Whitby photography session.

people with special needs

People with Special Needs | Whitby Photography | Coltens Autism Journey

My son Colten was diagnosed with ASD when he was 2 years old. I noticed even as a newborn that he acted a little differently than other newborns. Particularly, he never seemed hungry and therefore he didn’t want to nurse. By 4 months of age, he still wasn’t growing appropriately and his pediatrician decided we needed to start solid foods.

His sleep patterns were all over the place and no matter how hard I tried he didn’t want to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. My husband and I decided at 6 months of age that we would bring in a sleep consultant as all the tricks I knew didn’t seem to be helping and as a result, I was exhausted. He also wasn’t developing properly. By 6 months he still wasn’t able to sit on his own even though we had been trying to get him to. All of his developmental milestones were falling behind.

People with special Needs | Whitby Photography | 1 Year

I went to his pediatrician and expressed my concerns. His doctor and I decided to get him signed up with a physiotherapist and occupational therapist. With the therapists on board, we made improvements although it was slow-moving. The older he got the more we realized subtle differences in his development and behaviors. He didn’t want to associate with others. He preferred alone activities and would leave others to sit by himself. By a little over a year, we still had no speech so we added on a speech therapist to his team and went for multiple hearing tests and ear tubes for fluid in his ears.

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People with Special Needs | Whitby Photography | 2 Years

By 2 years old he had a team that included a speech therapist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and play therapist. Around this time Colten also started showing some aggressive behaviors toward others. Although Colten had made some improvements although he was still lagging significantly and his pediatrician decided to get a developmental pediatrician on board to get assessed for ASD. Once he was diagnosed we stepped up our game and added on another speech therapist, ABA therapist, a social worker. We also got a behavior management company into his daycare to assess his difficult behaviors at daycare.

People with Special Needs | Whitby Photography | Present Da

My little man is now 4 years old. He has recently been diagnosed with ARFID (eating disorder) Colten is in junior kindergarten and is doing moderately well. Although he still doesn’t speak a large number of words, he has learned quite a bit of sign language.  Walking and gross motor skills are excellent. Potty training is a work in progress and he is learning to control some of his un-preferred behaviors. He still has aggressive periods when frustrated but we have learned to manage them appropriately. Colten is getting his second set of ear tubes this February as the others have fallen out and is on a waitlist for sick kids for an MRI and hearing test to assess his ears. We still have his team of therapists and specialists involved with his development and we are optimistic about his future.

people with special needs

People with Special Needs | Whitby Photography | What is Autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It affects how an individual interacts, communicates with others, uses their senses, learns new things, and makes decisions.

Most people know what autism is, but don’t understand it. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects how a person communicates and interacts with others. It can also affect the way they see and process information. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and affects boys four times more often than girls.***

People with Special Needs | Whitby Photography | Why Photography is Difficult for Individuals with ASD

People with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder may not respond to verbal directions or facial expressions. They may become overwhelmed by too much stimulation, such as bright lights and loud noises. This can make taking their photograph difficult.

With my son Colten, I always have a hard time getting him to focus on what I want him to do because of all the distractions around us – my daughter running around, talking with each other, or trying to get everyone into place, etc. We would often spend more time trying to control these external factors than actually having fun capturing beautiful moments together as a family! 

Colten also has a hard time making eye contact with others. This is another common symptom of Autism. When he does make eye contact, it is usually very brief. Occasionally I can even get a smile! Colten’s smiles are the most genuine and beautiful ones I have ever seen!

People with Special Needs | Whitby Photography | Tips to Help

We understand that photographing children with special needs can be difficult for a Whitby photography session. This blog post will help you get started by offering some specific tips on how to make the photography experience easier for everyone involved.

  1. Minimize distractions as much as possible
  2. Try to photograph in a private, quieter area
  3. Don’t make too many demands, this can be overwhelming
  4. Ask parents questions to find out needs and preferences
  5. Meet ASD child before the session if possible to increase the comfort level
  6. Offer a favorite toy or activity to focus on during the session
  7. Be patient and encouraging


What is Autism