Anyone who's ever posed for a family photo with children knows it can be an exhausting process.
But families with an autistic child face an even tougher challenge.
Sitting still and posing for an extended period of time can sometimes be especially hard for these kids, Getting the perfect shot can prove difficult.
But Samantha Bishop may have found the perfect solution with her eight-year-old, Levi. Play a little dress-up!
Levi felt much more comfortable about taking some pictures while dressed up in his favorite T-Rex costume!
Samantha, a professional photographer, knows Levi is normally very self-conscious in front of the Camera:
"A lot of things can be difficult for Levi. Taking a picture usually involves a lot of bribery and a lot of dancing."
When she asks him to smile, he'll often reply:
"mum, don't tell me what to do with my face. I don't know what I'm meant to be doing."
And, of course, as the process drags on, things don't get any easier on either of them:
"I felt like we were forcing something on him that was uncomfortable for him. He didn't enjoy them and they weren't real smiles from him - they were forced and fake. Out of 5,000 photos, I may have had 10 great ones."
So when Levi seemed especially excited for a photo-shoot when dressed up as his favorite character, Samantha jumped at the idea.
She enlisted the help of Lola , Levi's cousin and best friend, to act as the paleontologist the T-Rex chases and took some pictures straight out of the Cretaceous Period!
On Reddit, user ab_b_normal posted:
"This is the best thing ever! Our daughter is on the spectrum and always wears either a unicorn horn or Eevee ears everywhere we go. Like EVERYWHERE! It's so normal for us now that when I fix her hair I put them on her right after I am done, or remind her to get them (as if she would forget) like reminding your child to grab their coat. It's so awesome creating a life and space for our kids to stretch into themselves and not worry about petty rules like picture etiquette or that costumes are only for Halloween. 💜"
"This is what family photos should be about. Everyone's happy at the end, and makes for great stories later. And a great reddit post"
taterstahr summed up all of our feelings by saying:
"You are awesome! So happy he has a supportive family! ❤"
The photoshoot became a much more pleasant experience for Levi:
"He loved it, he was laughing hysterically, and he was super-excited."
On Facebook, commenters sounded off in support of Samantha and Levi!
When she posted the photos online, Samanta received some backlash for making Levi's autism a focus of the experience.
In a later post, however, she stood by her decision:
So while many people don't see why his autism or other special needs have anything to do with this shoot, I think many will. This is him in his element. There are no forced smiles, no bribery, no pretend happiness...And so I choose to celebrate his 'labels' and teach him to use them to his advantage rather than see them as an obstacle.
Samantha knows how hard it is for many families with autistic children to get good pictures, but she believes the secret to success may be "letting the children take the lead:"
If parents would just let the kids be themselves, it would be OK - they don't need the picture-perfect smile or moment, but if their child is happy, they will get the picture they want.
Levi is eager for his next photoshoot—the family will be dressing up as the Ghostbusters!