Noah is 6 years old. Noah is nonverbal. Noah has autism.
This post was to be about Autism. But that’s not what it turned out to be. It turned out to be about Noah, who just happens to have autism, and his mom. About 6 months ago my husband said to me “hey, I went to highschool with this girl I think you’d like her, she writes blogs”. I thought because she blogs I’d like her?
Well, he forwarded me a blog where Alisa was talking about her son Noah. It blew me away. He was right, I did like her, just from reading that one blog post. The way she writes is the way I try to make images. She speaks with purpose, with a vision, and we both try to let people in on a deeper level. Alisa’s writing is informative, but easy to read , she keeps it on a very personal level. She always willing to be Noah’s voice, and that voice is loud!
I contacted her on Fb to let her know I appreciated her writing and she turned around and said the same thing to me about my images. She mentioned that she loved that I was able to capture not just my children’s faces but capture them as who they honestly are. She also said to me that she has never had anyone able to take photos of Noah and have that personal feeling. We talked more. I needed to know more. I needed to meet this amazing little boy I have read so much about.
On January 11 2015 I was invited into their home to try to capture just a smidgen of who this complex, multi- layered little boy is. I watched and listened to Alisa speak about Noah. With such pride her tired eyes would light up and her smile, oh her smile, all just by saying his name. But I could also hear a deep fear in her voice. And there it was. At one point she said “what if something happened to me?” Being completely realistic and knowing things can happen at any time to anyone of us she also said “Me leaving anytime soon is not an option” as she threw her hands out in the air.
I know nothing about autism. I had thoughts and now I see obviously false understandings as to what the autism spectrum means. Even after spending a day talking with this incredibly strong woman and documenting Noah I still know nothing about autism. However, I do know a little more about a smart, funny, and very connected little boy.
Alisa knows why Noah is in her life and she is truly grateful. I know we are here to teach and help our children but if you let them they have plenty to teach us too. Most of the time we are so busy living day by day you forget that there is not only one way to look at this world, it’s not all black and white. Noah getting his arms creamed, this is done to relieve the itch. Balls. Noah’s favourite. He bounced and bounced the whole time I was there. He takes his mom by the hand and tells her what he wants, push of the arm is no. When he looks for something to eat in the fridge, he wants his back tickled. And his legs squeezed. Alisa is happy to provide this comfort. I noticed he went to the fridge just for this. I asked if my camera was too much for him, he looked concerned. He was curious. He later took some photos of his mom himself.
He wanted downstairs. After a quick lay down and some music to reset the mood, Noah was back. Another game of ball. Noah took mom’s hand and mine and pulled us down the hallway to her room then.. closed the door. Two seconds later he opened the door and she yelled SURPRISE! – exactly what he wanted. He walked us back to Alisa’s room over and over, sometimes for play but this time he needed some cuddles.