Faces of Autism Carter
April has traditionally been Autism Awareness month, but we are trying to do more than become aware, we are driven to accept! I have been planning this campaign for months and have had the absolute PRIVILEGE of photographing some of the most AMAZING people! Throughout the month of April we will be featuring them and their stories. I pray that you find love for these INCREDIBLE humans and their passions!
Carter is 8 years old and is diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. He is funny, smart, and has an incredibly sharp memory (he remembers everything!). Carter loves big machinery and anything with a LOUD engine. Construction equipment, motorcycles, trains, planes....you name it! He is also very mechanically inclined. He enjoys building complex structures with legos and does an incredible job at following complicated building instructions well beyond his age range. One of Carter's favorite pastimes is restoring old vacuum cleaners. He has his own workstation at home where he disassembles, cleans, repairs, and reassembles vacuums. This has been a lifelong passion of his. He is able to tell you the brand and model of almost any vacuum cleaner! He would no doubt make an excellent mechanical engineer in the future, but whichever path he decides to take, we know he will do great things! Aside from his ongoing mechanical projects he also enjoys riding his bike, swimming, doing puzzles, baking, and coloring. Carter has such a kind heart. He cares so much about others well-being, especially his twin baby sisters. He takes the role of big brother very seriously and acts as their protector. Carter truly is one of a kind!
From Carter's Parents: We first started noticing some signs indicating that Carter might be on the spectrum when he was about 2 years old. The first thing we noticed was his speech delay. While other children his age were beginning to speak 2 word phrases, Carter only had about 3 singular words in his vocabulary. He also did not seem interested in socializing with other children his age. He preferred to play alone. In general, Carter seemed to have different interests than his peers. He was really only ever interested in one thing -- vacuum cleaners. All day, every day, all he ever wanted to do was vacuum. When he was 3 years old he got his official diagnosis of Autism. Since then he has been participating in ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills classes. As Carter continues to grow and change, so do his Autism traits. As his language continued to develop he also developed Echolalia, which is the repetition or imitation of words or phrases. He collects certain phrases from movies, books, or people he often has contact with (i.e. parents, teachers, friends, etc.) and uses them to help him communicate. Certain phrases seem to get stuck in his head and he will regularly repeat them -- sometimes for hours, days, or even weeks. Transitions between activities can be very stressful for Carter. He is able to complete tasks much more efficiently when his day-to-day routines remain consistent and structured. It helps reduce his anxiety because he knows what to expect. A few years after his Autism diagnosis he was also diagnosed with ADHD. This further explained why Carter is easily distracted and can be extremely unfocused and unregulated at times. One of the biggest changes that we have noticed in Carter as he continues to grow are the changes in his sensory sensitivities. His hearing has become much more sensitive and he often chooses to wear ear protection around the house to help cancel out excess noise. Eye contact makes Carter uncomfortable so he won't typically look directly at people while they are speaking, even though he is still paying attention (usually!). Perhaps the most difficult Autism trait from a parent's perspective is Carter's aversion to physical touch. We have learned along the way that even though Carter may not want to give hugs, snuggle, or show affection as much as we'd prefer, he still shows his love for us in his own special way!