10 Things You Can’t See in This Picture of My Son With Autism


We have all heard it said that pictures can be deceiving. I’ve thought a lot about this lately. We aimlessly browse through our Facebook newsfeed and see picture after picture of happy moments. I think it would be interesting to see the real picture. Perhaps we would all like each other a little more if we didn’t have the facade of permanent happiness on social media. 

Occasionally, I see a picture of a non-typical family. Their faces are full of smiles, except for the unruly toddler who appears to be possessed by demons. These pictures always make me chuckle. I like the realness of it.

As a parent, I find it quite difficult to capture pictures of my son, Drake, period. My child doesn’t love the camera. Add autism into the mix, and I feel like I need a fancy DSLR camera that takes action pictures.

Some of the greatest pictures I have of Drake were taken by his therapists. However, as stated previously, pictures can be deceiving. I will never post a picture of Drake that would embarrass him one day, but I think there are times others need to know the story behind the picture. In order to educate others and spread awareness, it’s imperative all aspects of autism be explained.

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The picture on the right shows what appears to be a happy little guy holding his “First Day of Preschool” sign. But here are 10 things you can’t see.

1. You can’t see his amazing ABA therapist, Lindsay, working hard to get this picture for me. You see, as an autism parent, I don’t have the luxury of just snapping a picture of Drake looking cute in front of the school building with a huge grin on his face. I had to ask Drake’s therapists to get a picture for me.

2. What you don’t see is the major meltdown that occurred when Drake was asked to hold the sign. You don’t see his therapists trying with all their might to make this kid smile.

3. You don’t see the iPad they eventually had to use (playing the “Kung Fu Panda” trailer) in order to get one brief smile.

4. There is no way for you to see the picture schedule being shown to Drake to prepare him for his big day.

5. You can’t see how anxious I am about this new school year. Just one year ago, I withdrew Drake from a different preschool because he would throw up when we pulled in the parking lot from sheer anxiety.

6. You can’t see how much progress he has made in ABA therapy. It may not work for every child, but it works for mine. He is happy. He loves his therapists, and they love him.

7. In this picture, you can’t see how thankful I am for his therapists. I have no idea where my little guy (or myself) would be without these amazing and selfless individuals.

8. You have no way of knowing he only attended preschool for 30 minutes the first few days to make sure it was a positive experience.

9. You don’t know about the meeting I had with his therapy team about preschool, or that I almost backed out.

10. Nothing about this picture tells you how proud I am that he rocked his first day and every day since then.

You see, pictures are only that — pictures. There is always a story behind them. Our story can be complicated, worrisome and tiring, but it’s ours. Despite all of the challenging stuff that can’t be seen in a picture, I am thankful.

Follow this journey on Walking With Drake.

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