Welsh dad Glenn Gameson-Burrows has always enjoyed taking photos of his children, particularly his 2-year-old daughter Aneira, who has autism spectrum disorder.
To raise awareness and dispel common myths about his daughter's condition, Gameson-Burrows started photographing other children (and a few adults) with autism. He compiled the images into a series called "Magpie."
"My hope is that these photographs will make people think," the dad told The Huffington Post, adding that he wants others to realize that autism isn't always visible. "A screaming child in your supermarket isn’t always a naughty child. A stressed-out parent isn’t a bad parent. A child lining things up, hiding objects, eating food in a strange manner or making strange noises isn’t uneducated or rude, just different."
The title of the series comes from Gameson-Burrows' special nickname for Aneira. "As a very young child Aneira was always drawn towards shiny objects much like someone with Magpie Syndrome. I usually call her my little Magpie."
By working with other kids and grownups with ASD, Gameson-Burrows says he has learned that everyone with autism is unique. "They all have different personalities, obsessions, routines and at time difficulty communicating and making sense of everything around them," he explained.
The dad also noticed that the other parents of kids with autism shared the same concerns and fears he and his wife have: Will my child ever live independently? Will they have a good education? Will they get married and have children? Will they have friends? Will my child get bullied?
Gameson-Burrows describes parenting a child with autism as "tiring, uncertain, frustrating, stressful, heartbreaking, challenging and loud." But most of all, he said, it's rewarding.
"Every day Aneira amazes us -- to the normal parent it may not seem like much but the first time Aneira held our hands without running away was huge for our family," he said. "The more we see her develop the more rewarding it is and makes those hard days and nights worth it. We are on a journey and we are doing the best we can."
By raising awareness, Gameson-Burrows hopes his project can lead to policy measures in Wales (and around the world) to support families touched by autism. From increasing the resources to make early diagnoses to supporting adults with autism in the workforce, the dad sees many potential avenues for improvement.
"Everyone is different and everyone has challenges in their lives," he said. "This is our challenge, but I love that our daughter is different. These are great kids, and to be honest if we took more notice we could learn a thing or two ourselves."
Keep scrolling for a look at his stunning photos of kids with autism.
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