Portrait photographer focuses on kids with autism

May 9, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Having a child with Asperger syndrome and a love for taking pictures gave Megan Drane a reason to start a photography business that focuses on children with autism.

Jennifer and Geoff Allen's 5-year-old son David was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 1/2.

"Language is a big deficit for David, understanding a question, a conversational language. He can repeat you, he can request things that he wants and needs, but if I was to say after school, 'How was your day?' I wouldn't get much response there," said Jennifer Allen.

"Behavior everyday is different," Jennifer said. "Some days are great, some days are more challenging. He is not someone that wants to stay in one place for a long period of time. Sometimes he can get upset and have a tantrum, and it takes a while to do a lot of problem solving, to figure out what exactly is the problem and how we can fix it."

Jennifer loves photographs of her son and family. But getting David to be still is extremely difficult.

"I feel myself, when we're out somewhere, I have to take about 20 to 30 pictures to get one that's great," Jennifer said.

"And so I said that's a tragedy, that they couldn't get a picture," Megan said, "so I came in last year and met him, and he's a beautiful boy as you saw, and we didn't do any of the studio lighting; no flashes, no backdrops or anything, 'cause I thought, 'Let's just keep it very calm,' and I just basically did the lifestyle pictures of following him around."

Because of her personal experiences, she is able to understand how to work with children with autism.

"Before I come in I always have a conversation to know what their favorite toys are, what songs they like, what TV shows, what engages them, and I want to know, Can I touch them? Because some children don't want to be touched."

For the first time this year, Jennifer will have her family portrait taken.

"I know my mother wants one. I know my husband's mother wants one. It will just be so nice to capture this moment in time with our family, because we have so many happy moments with David," said Jennifer.

"I want to give them that moment that's captured, because these kids grow up so quickly and these are those carefree, beautiful times, and they need to be captured," said Megan.

Megan Drane's Firefly Nights Photography travels to your location. Session fees start at $150.

For more information go to our website at www.fireflynightsphotography.com.

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