This post is a little different from our usual 2 Guys Photo fare. In recognition of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share this story of Kyle and his Mom, Penny.
Kyle is a pretty typical ten year old boy. He loves pizza, watching cartoons, riding his bike, playing with his dog and video games. He’s also a budding photographer who’s favorite subjects include animals at the zoo, churches, Victorian houses, his school, and his dog Khloe.
Back in 2009, Kyle’s Mom Penny, who has carried a camera with her for most of her adult life, gave Kyle his first camera, a Kodak EasyShare, and showed him how to use it.
You see, Kyle is a child with Autism and he has ADHD. And while he is just like many other children, his speech development is not typical of a child his age. Mom thought that giving Kyle a camera would be beneficial because Kyle, like many children with Autism, is very visual – Kyle needs to see as well as touch and hear and feel, in order to comprehend something.
When he was younger, Mom would use pictures of a toothbrush and toothpaste to prepare him for what he would be doing next. She would take pictures of the beach where they would vacation every summer, to show Kyle where they were planning to go. Pictures became a key means of communication, so giving her son a camera seemed like a natural thing to do. But Mom also hoped that through the camera, she would be able to see the world through her son’s eyes and she thought it would help Kyle express himself in ways that he had not been able to in the past.
Well, Kyle has taken to photography like a duck to water, and in fact, he now owns several cameras. Penny estimates that he has taken thousands of photos in just 2 years. He takes photos of his doctors, teachers, fellow students, the school bus driver, and many more. People know when they see Kyle, that his camera is usually close at hand.
These days, Kyle can fill a memory card in a few hours and will download his photos to the family’s PC. He’ll review them, sort them into different folders, and he thoroughly enjoys looking at them and sharing them with others. He takes his Mom on “photo adventures”, where together they explore and make photographs.
Penny tells me that photography has been a great interest for him; it’s a hobby that he loves and is improving at. He’s always wanting to go on a new adventure with his camera. And it has helped Mom understand his world, to see what’s important to him, and what motivates him.
Kyle’s school teachers told me how photography has helped Kyle:
A major benefit of Kyle’s use of the camera is that we (his teachers) are able to understand what Kyle is trying to tell us – he will take a picture of the things he couldn’t find the words for, and show it to us. Together, we will look at the pictures and he will learn the words he couldn’t retrieve on his own. In a way, the photos act as “translators”. It’s a great communication aid and I think other children could benefit as well.
When I spoke with a local fifth grade special educator about Kyle and Penny, she said:
I think that it is amazing for a child to be able to communicate and give others the privilege to see the world the way that Kyle does. His mother is an angel for providing him with the opportunity to see the world and communicate through the lens of a camera. As a special educator, I am inspired by both Kyle and Penny and can only hope to help my students explore and interact with the world around them in the way Penny has for Kyle.
Based on their experience, Penny is hoping to start a program to allow people to donate their used, working digital cameras to schools for children with disabilities, to help them in similar ways. I hope that Penny realizes her dream and that she and Kyle enjoy many more photo adventures together.
I want to thank Penny and Kyle for sharing their story, his teachers and educators for their input, and all the Mom’s out there who do so much for their children. Happy Mother’s Day.
Posted by Ed