Six months or so ago my dear friend Alicia put something into motion….She saw a Facebook post by a photographer asking for nominations of families affected by ASD to receive a free photo-shoot. This amazing photographer, Kacie K Photography, understood firsthand how challenging and upsetting something like having your pictures taken can be for an autistic child. And for their parents and siblings. Unbeknownst to me, Alicia nominated Super Cooper.
Here is her letter to Kacie K Photography:
First of all thank you for providing the opportunity for a family to have a photo shoot that would otherwise not be an option or way more intense and stressful. While I do not understand many things when it comes to autism, my dear friend Kate has opened my eyes to many things in a world I otherwise would be naïve to.
Kate is a wonderful mother of two little boys Cooper(4) and Sawyer(2). While all children are special, Cooper was more than special in Kate’s world; he is her rainbow baby and first born. Kate, myself and another friend all had our first babies within a year of each other, we are so excited our kids will grow up together like we did. During the first couple years we spent a lot of time together with our babies, even though Kate lived in Duluth and we lived in the SCF area. As our kids got older, Cooper began missing some milestones, some so small that as a first time parent you may not even realize (use of utensils, balancing on one foot) and others that now Kate looks back and says how she was in denial. Kate says deep down she knew something wasn’t right but believed Cooper couldn’t be autistic because he made eye contact and he loves hugs, kisses and snuggles, but she needed to figure out why he wouldn’t talk. Through many doctors and therapists (speech/occupational) and misdiagnoses (being deaf), Kate pushed through and used her mommy intuition to keep going. While this was not easy on her she withdrew from a lot of things/people in her life. She didn’t know how to handle it, she didn’t know how people would handle Cooper and she wanted to protect him. Through these tough times Kate found her outlet to be a blog she started, www.findingcoopersvoice.com. Well, Kate did not give up in finding answers for Cooper. Through her research she found Fraser community services in the Twin Cities, they set up an appointment for Cooper and came down to have Cooper evaluated and see if he was a fit for their school. Well that was the first time someone looked at Kate and frankly said ‘Cooper is autistic’. While shocking for the forwardness it is what Kate needed. They explained the levels on the spectrum of autism and how Cooper could benefit from the program. Cooper was accepted into the program at Fraser and would start just 2 months later, they needed to get their house in Duluth on the market and find somewhere to live in the Twin Cities, nothing like a whirlwind to get what is best for your child. Well Kate and her husband Jamie made it work and have a wonderful home in Woodbury and Cooper is doing great at Fraser. While Kate needed to hear these things regarding Cooper, she still has anxiety over Cooper being in any environment other than his routine. I believe this session would not only give them wonderful pictures of their family together it would give Kate another mom who knows what she is going through. I believe each contact gives you another piece of strength to keep moving forward.
Thank you again!
And Kacie picked us! She called and we immediately bonded. Listening to her journey with her children’s autism was amazing. I cried multiple times. This woman understood me. She understood the fine line of accepting and fighting and not giving up. And smiling and loving your babies. And putting your children first. I was in awe of her courage. She inspired me.
And Kacie’s friend Meghan sent me an absolutely beautiful dress to wear for the photo-shoot. They seriously thought of so many details and made it a special day. Hence Cooper’s yellow skinny jeans….they matched my dress! Thank you Meghan Stowers, Independent Trunk Keeper #296 with Matilda Jane Clothing!
The photo-shoot was an absolute blast. Kacie was patient and calm and spent time with us. And we got the most amazing pictures.
I would have never went to a photographer with Cooper if it hadn’t been for Kacie. This service she provided was the sweetest thing ever. I can’t thank her and Alicia enough.
Find the people in this world that will help you. If you get nothing out of this blog please understand you can’t do this alone. I wanted to hide Cooper forever. Even still I think about moving away and starting over. And maybe, just maybe, he won’t be autistic anymore. We can hide it. But, that’s ridiculous. This dear friend of mine saw my struggles…even though I didn’t share them with her. And she did a wonderful thing. She gave us a gift.
In the last picture Cooper is holding an 8×10 picture of our family from Thomas the Train this year. True to himself he brought his own pictures to the photo-shoot. And then promptly threw the picture over a bridge into a lake. 🙂
Here is Kacie’s post and a sneak peak of the pictures:
Most of you know that our family is affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have three children, two of which diagnosed with ASD. I offered a free session to a family affected with the disorder last spring and Cooper and his family were the winners. It was an absolute honor and priviledge to photograph this gorgeous fam and meet Cooper and his little brother. I hope you enjoy these photos of this dear to my heart family.