We rarely photograph families with children with special needs like autism, and we wondered if it was because parents were simply too intimidated by the whole process. We decided to work with the nice folks from Early Autism Project Malaysia to equip ourselves as well as make a video to provide some tips on how to manage a family photo shoot session with a child with autism.
We started off with an interview with Jochebed Isaacs from EAP Malaysia who gave us some insights into the specialised therapy offered at their centre for children with autism. We were later introduced to Juan and Nancy, who welcomed us into their home for a photo shoot session with their sons Danny and Tommy. The experience proved to be quite tough but we soldiered on and even received hugs from Danny at the end!
Here are some of the pointers we picked up through this experience:
1. It is important to communicate with the child
Prepare in advance before the session. Communicate clearly what is to happen and what is expected of him. The use of visuals like schedules, social stories and role-plays help to familiarise the child to the event and venue, the people involved (especially if they are unfamiliar to the child), the flow of events and the special equipment used (like the camera!). It should also spell out the rules and expectations.