Aiden's happy place is the water, so we decided to meet at the beach for his session. He was hesitant to get in the water in his regular clothes at first, but once we showed him how much fun it was, he had a blast!
It is my honor to introduce you to Aiden and his family through my photographs, and to share their story in the words of mom, Emily:
"On August 30, 2011, my life changed forever. My beautiful baby boy Aiden was born into this world, not knowing that he would actually bring me and his brothers into his own beautiful world. When Aiden was 1 it seemed like he was meeting all his mile stones, he even said a few words and interacted so well! At age 2 I noticed he had started to regress... My baby barely made eye contact, minimal speech, would hand flap to the point where he was perfusely sweating. I would find him awake at night hand flapping to a blank screen TV sweating, looking so restless and sometimes crying at the same time. I knew something wasn't right. We began speech therapy and even with everything I presented and disclosed to the psychologist, speech therapists, they insisted since he was so "calm and cooperative" and made great eye contact with his Mom only that it was too soon to diagnose him. At age 4 I took him to the school district, who again only wanted to focus on speech therapy and didn't want to focus on his other behaviors. I fought for my son and went to seek help through Rady Children's Hospital who completed a 4 hour psychology assessment and Aiden was officially diagnosed with ASD, global developmental delay at 4 years old . My 4 year old boy was functioning at an 18 month year old level. My initial reaction was to stay strong for my little boy and push through this journey! Another part of me of course began to worry about a million things like what happen's if I'm no longer around, who's going to take care of my son, my son can barely talk how can he speak up for himself, how will he tell me anything if something is wrong?
Aiden is now 6 going on 7 this August 2018. He has 2 brothers who he loves very much and is very dependent on. Aiden follows Aaron (his younger brother who is 5 years old) and copies everything he does! He always asks for reassurance and just loves being around him, which of course can be a good and a bad thing. We are currently working on Aiden not being so dependent on the youngest sibling , because it can be very exhausting for my young one and also we want to teach Aiden to be more independent. It 's to the point where Aaron will speak for Aiden and Aiden can not make a decision without inquiring with Aaron first.
My oldest son who is 12 years old absolutely adores his youngest brothers and has this special bond with Aiden. Sometimes it's hard to hear questions, statements from my oldest son like "Mom, I'm worried about Aiden. Kids are mean and I don't want him to get bullied." or "Mom do you ever think Aiden will go to college and play a sport?"
Aiden has exceeded everyone's expectations. He is now fully potty trained, talking more than ever, can speak for himself, still hand flaps and has his little rituals and specific ways he likes things, but that's my boy! If it's not hurting anyone or himself, who cares about all the unique special rituals and things he loves to do to comfort himself. He still has his days, some are way harder than others, but through this journey my family and I have learned patience, understanding, and lots and lots of LOVE. I couldn't have done it without his wonderful teachers, coaches, therapists, grandparents, friends and family that love Aiden unconditionally and have supported us through this beautiful journey. Aiden, you are loved."