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Thread: Autism

  1. #1
    wbrandsma
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    Autism

    My son has autism. A fact of life for him, me and my family. Most of his symptoms deal with social interaction, restrictions in understanding communication (in particular non verbal communication), theory of mind, and very distinctive interests (like dinosaurs, trains and Lego).

    One particular symptom is his difficulty in prioritizing and picking up details. What he considers important will often not be of any significance to us. That can cause anxiety, fear, panic, enjoyment, and pleasure. His own world! A complex world hard to comprehend for us.

    These photographs are my interpretation of this complexity, dealing with too many information.




















  2. #2
    Senior Member Rawfa's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, some very profound work.

  3. #3
    EWR72
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    Re: Autism

    Thank you for sharing these Wouter.

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    Re: Autism

    Wouter your explanations and photographs opened a new perspective for me, I'm indebted to you. Thank you for sharing.
    Osman

  5. #5
    Senior Member pollobarca's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, lots of love in these photos.
    "I ruined my health by drinking to everyone else's." Brendan Behan
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollobarca/

  6. #6
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, what a thoughtful and heartfelt set. I'm wondering if your son has the capability of taking pictures? or have you ever given him a camera to use?

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, I have spent some time this summer with the autistic young son of a cousin. I understand what you are portraying. Your series is very beautiful and loving. It is wonderful that you can use your art to educate us.

  8. #8
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Thank you all. It means a lot to me. Terry, he has an older digicam and at times has been able to take pretty respectful photographs (these were partly my inspiration too). But he doesn't always want to do it. He is eight now and the tunnel vision of camera somehow makes him more conscious of his own limitations.

  9. #9
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    Re: Autism

    "What he considers important will often not be of any significance to us. That can cause anxiety, fear, panic, enjoyment, and pleasure. His own world! A complex world hard to comprehend for us."

    i wonder if that isn't the very nature of childhood? we have to learn to see the world in a common way in order to be accepted by the tribe which protects us. in the process we lose (forget, don't notice) our own individual vision cause it's actually terrifying to feel we're different from everyone else. yet that is actually the case and it's part of the artistic enterprise to recover it. no wonder art ultimately proves difficult as a way of life. most of the time we must live in cliches.

    profound and moving, wouter. thanks.

    wayne
    www.pbase.com/wwp

  10. #10
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    Re: Autism

    Wonderful and thoughtful.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Don
    Don Libby
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  11. #11
    Senior Member kweide's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wonderful work
    __________________________________________________
    Part of the Wonderland
    see more ( NSFW ) on : http://www.klaweide.de

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    Re: Autism

    Thank you for sharing this. The one that touched me the most was of the dog's ears--it perhaps gave me more insight into other's 'seeing' than I would have expected, but the whole set is wonderful.

    Diane

  13. #13
    nei1
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter,I seem to see these in pairs,one helping to explain the other,1&2,3&4 etc.Beautiful set both in intent and execution,thanks.........Neil.

  14. #14
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    I felt exhausted today after posting these photographs. I have been taking these photographs in my mind for so long. It wanted it to come out, but didn't feel a lot of relief though. Reading your comments and appreciation gives me a much needed boost. So maybe Cindy these photographs serve no real educational purpose (although that wouldn't mind since 1 out 100 kids nowadays are diagnosed with autism, PDD-NOS or syndrome of Asperger), but rather my personal expression of my fears.

    We all have expectations when our kids grow older. Family life, happiness, job, etc. We help them and someday we hope they will help us when we get older. My life will be meaningful when he is happy in his sort of way. While so, I try to learn his state of happiness. Thank you all.

  15. #15
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, thank you for sharing with us. This photo essay and its theme are powerful.

  16. #16
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Autism

    An amazing series...I agree with Diane, the Dog's Ears conveys "something" of information processing that the non-Autistic can only have a "glimpse" at understanding.
    Really well done!!!

    Steve

  17. #17
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Impressive series trying to show what your son sees.

    What does he say to the pics?
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Don Ellis's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, you've done a truly marvellous job here... and a great service to many of us who appreciate the insight into another world. Like Diane, I was most touched by the dog's ears. Thank you for the photos and the personal story.

    On a technical note, I think we can all quit worrying about noise now.

    Don

  19. #19
    Senior Member Will's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Moved me to tears this time Wouter, beautiful series.

  20. #20
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    Re: Autism

    What wonderful photos Wouter. Your charge and understanding is felt even without knowing the background. Hope you get some more exposure, it'd be a pity, since some of your photos deserve better than transient life of internet forums. I'll keep these marked, and try order some prints from you (as soon as I'm no longer "between jobs" ).

  21. #21
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    What does he say to the pics?
    He describes in detail what he observes in the photographs, no emotions except for the photograph with the dog's ears. I had many people wondering what those ears were and my son immediately recognized the ears of his dog aiming at the little hairs on top of his ears.

    I really want to thank you all for your warm and meaningful comments. Last night I was at a parents meeting and I showed these photographs too. I was pleasantly surprised to receive the same kind of comments which brings me to Sizifo's comment.

    I am now considering different exposures for this series. That kind of feels like the first time doing street photography. I feel uncomfortable about that now, but something within me says I want to do it. Thank you for the encouragement.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Quote Originally Posted by sizifo View Post
    What wonderful photos Wouter. Your charge and understanding is felt even without knowing the background. Hope you get some more exposure, it'd be a pity, since some of your photos deserve better than transient life of internet forums....
    Would you consider a series of yours for an exhibition, or possible book publication; or a father and son (photographic) view of autism?
    Sláinte

    Robert.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter,

    Thank you very much for posting this thread.
    Your photos are from the heart - They are beautiful. I applaud your work.
    All the best to you and your family.

    I have sent a PM.

    Tim

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    Re: Autism

    beautifull

  25. #25
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    Would you consider a series of yours for an exhibition, or possible book publication; or a father and son (photographic) view of autism?
    I am still not really sure Robert. A book might be to personal, but I might consider an exhibition though. I am even thinking about Burn magazine, but I guess I have still my doubst to overcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    Wouter,

    Thank you very much for posting this thread.
    Your photos are from the heart - They are beautiful. I applaud your work.
    All the best to you and your family.

    I have sent a PM.

    Tim
    Thank you Tim (so much appreciated) and Gero.

  26. #26
    Arie Intveld
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter;

    These images superbly capture the frustrations, anxieties and isolation your son must be experiencing as he tries to sort out the complexities of life. The fact that you have attempted to visually convey your son’s perception of the world speaks volumes about you as a man and a father. To me, these images symbolize your patience and love for your son as well as your own frustrations.

    Only you, Wouter, could capture, in images, how your son’s view of the world differs from yours and mine. They are agonizingly beautiful.

    All is not lost ...

    Arie

  27. #27
    D upton-Hackett.
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter,

    Had tears in my eyes looking at the shots and reading the posts, it brought back lovely warm memories of a special time in my teenage years when it was a pleasure and a joy helping -out at a centre for Autistic children in Nottinghamshire for a couple of evenings each week. what comes back to me is the warmth and affection that the children gave back.

    It was was a wonderful point in my life and taught me more than i can recall.

    Derek.

  28. #28
    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Beautiful & Heartbreaking series....

    I do think a BOOK would be quite the Thing to do...
    perhaps getting a Grant
    working with your son & a few of his classmates on the Visual Side...
    the Way an autistic child Experiences the World at large

    I feel strongly it would be a SUCCESS
    not only in Publication
    but more so in opening up the hidden World of the autistic Child
    I know Music can be very Important to an Autistic Child
    perhaps Photography can be another Tool in bringing one out to Engage
    Creatively & Emotionally.

    I think Your on to something BIGGER than YOU realize.

    Best to You - H

  29. #29
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Quote Originally Posted by Arie Intveld View Post
    Wouter;

    These images superbly capture the frustrations, anxieties and isolation your son must be experiencing as he tries to sort out the complexities of life. The fact that you have attempted to visually convey your son’s perception of the world speaks volumes about you as a man and a father. To me, these images symbolize your patience and love for your son as well as your own frustrations.

    Only you, Wouter, could capture, in images, how your son’s view of the world differs from yours and mine. They are agonizingly beautiful.

    All is not lost ...

    Arie
    I really don't know what to say Arie. Your comment is very much appreciated. It certainly felt like my most difficult photographic project.

    Quote Originally Posted by D upton-Hackett. View Post
    Wouter,

    Had tears in my eyes looking at the shots and reading the posts, it brought back lovely warm memories of a special time in my teenage years when it was a pleasure and a joy helping -out at a centre for Autistic children in Nottinghamshire for a couple of evenings each week. what comes back to me is the warmth and affection that the children gave back.

    It was was a wonderful point in my life and taught me more than i can recall.

    Derek.
    Thank you for sharing some of your experiences Derek. And I can absolutely acknowledge your comment about the warmth and affection of these children. Many consider them emotionless, but so little is true. My son has eyes that speak 1001 words.

    Quote Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
    Beautiful & Heartbreaking series....

    I do think a BOOK would be quite the Thing to do...
    perhaps getting a Grant
    working with your son & a few of his classmates on the Visual Side...
    the Way an autistic child Experiences the World at large

    I feel strongly it would be a SUCCESS
    not only in Publication
    but more so in opening up the hidden World of the autistic Child
    I know Music can be very Important to an Autistic Child
    perhaps Photography can be another Tool in bringing one out to Engage
    Creatively & Emotionally.

    I think Your on to something BIGGER than YOU realize.

    Best to You - H
    Thank you so much dear. I have some ideas to extent the project, but they likely include much more personal photographs. And for that reason only I still have my doubts. Your words however motivate me to keep the project going.

  30. #30
    dickinsonjon
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    Re: Autism

    Hi Wouter - a lot of your photographs remind me of my own work. I have Asperger's Syndrome, which as I'm sure you know is the more functional end of the autistic spectrum. Spooky.

    I haven't passed by here for a while since I took parallel trips into DSLR and Film photography, getting rid of my G9. I just came back today and realised why I don't take as many photographs these days. So I've just put a big Nikkor up for sale on the 'bay and will be investing in an LX3.

    Hope to post soon, love to you all.
    JD

  31. #31
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Hello Jon. Your comment means a lot to me. I have gone through all the tests myself last year (we thought my son might have had autism from me), but in the end there were no signs of autism with me. We all however have some characteristics that reminds us of autism. Often normal people do have even more problems with the theory of mind than people with autism.

    I am glad you picked up photography again and invested some money in the LX3. And I certainly love to see more work from you.

    Wish you all the best.

  32. #32
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    Re: Autism

    just watched this again. amazing what a person can do in solitude and their own personal world. recommended.

    http://www.amazon.com/Realms-Unreal-...5668813&sr=8-1

    wayne
    www.pbase.com/wwp

  33. #33
    dickinsonjon
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    Re: Autism

    Quote Originally Posted by wbrandsma View Post
    Hello Jon. Your comment means a lot to me. I have gone through all the tests myself last year (we thought my son might have had autism from me), but in the end there were no signs of autism with me. We all however have some characteristics that reminds us of autism. Often normal people do have even more problems with the theory of mind than people with autism.

    I am glad you picked up photography again and invested some money in the LX3. And I certainly love to see more work from you.

    Wish you all the best.
    Thanks Wouter. I feel in a strange place in that I can function in everyday life, but whenever I meet someone who is on the autistic spectrum I just sort of know. And I see so much of myself in more severely affected people. The label is a weird thing - where does Aspergers tail off into 'not very sociable but not worth giving a label to' ? I hope the photographs help you in your journey with your son.

  34. #34
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    Re: Autism

    HI Wouter
    I'm interested - of course, I like the photos (I ALWAYS like your photos). Of course I'm very sympathetic as well, and I think the pictures are a clear and incontrovertible tribute to you as a loving father.

    Still, I'm trying to get a handle on them with respect to autism. My preconceptions were more to do with precision rather than fuzziness. So I guess that I'm asking whether the pictures are an attempt to define your feelings, or an effort to indicate his feelings.

    Just this guy you know

  35. #35
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Hi Jono,

    Many, and so did I, associate autism with precision and eye for detail, but many are not aware of the panick and fear when they are not understood or not understand what is happening. And probably this is not the world outsiders see. If my son would only be occupied with precision I could have a happy and not to worried life.

    Unfortunately his and our reality is so much different and more complex. He talks, he reads, he writes, but often doesn't have the same pragmatic usage of language. He sometimes doesn't understand the context we've defined. What if you interpret a situation completely differently from all other people, because you focused on some details you felt were important for you, but were not considered important by everybody else? Would you feel misunderstood?

    Maybe I ramble too long Jono. And probably you are right that I might have also attempted to define my feelings. But when I see the fear in the eyes of my wonderful son, I can know recognize the complexity of fuzziness of his reality, even though I still don't understand him. Maybe that makes me even more a stranger.

    Thank you Jono.

  36. #36
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    Re: Autism

    i enjoy these photos very much. what camera & film?

  37. #37
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    Re: Autism

    So profound, Wouter — I have just seen these photos for the first time and am blown away by your words and their power and your situation.

    *He is eight now and the tunnel vision of camera somehow makes him more conscious of his own limitations.*

    I wonder what would happen if you told him to forget about the viewfinder and just to take what might be called gesture photos — intuitive, integrated with his body's movements, hints at what he might be feeling or what he might intend....Perhaps you might then be able to talk with him about them, asking if they pleased him and why, sharing what you find in them....perhaps if he could *own* them through this process he might see his way into using some of them to accept and incorporate and transcend his limitations.

    Then, perhaps, the two of you might be able to collaborate on a book, perhaps with a photo of his on one page and one of yours on the facing one, with him having major input in the sequencing and perhaps even in any words that might (or might not) grow out of it all.

    I don't know, of course, but these are the thoughts I've had, and some of the hopes —

    All the very best,

    Irenaeus

  38. #38
    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Great imagery. Have you considered a keyboard/synthesizer/sequencer? My son was a handful (diagnosed ADHD) and while him taking pictures occupied him on occasion (especially doing time lapse stills), he also found some interesting "space" playing one of my keyboards, picking out weird sounds and layering them. Visual and aural and kind of different "channels" and can get to different spots in the brain/soul. I have midi recordings from when my son was 5-6 years old that are pretty amazing. Thankfully he's now going on 13 and mostly "grew out" of his handfullness. Well...some of the time

  39. #39
    Subscriber Member mwalker's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, my daughter has aspergers. I know exactly what you are portraying. Nice work.
    Mike

    website under construction

  40. #40
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, I'd somehow missed these photos when they were originally posted.

    Very strong set -- and all that much stronger to the extent they provide comfort, or insight, for you and your family.

  41. #41
    gjhzyy
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    Re: Autism

    It is wonderful.

  42. #42
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Quote Originally Posted by drazin View Post
    i enjoy these photos very much. what camera & film?
    No film, but a Ricoh GR Digital III with some Photoshop editing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Irenaeus View Post
    So profound, Wouter — I have just seen these photos for the first time and am blown away by your words and their power and your situation.

    Then, perhaps, the two of you might be able to collaborate on a book, perhaps with a photo of his on one page and one of yours on the facing one, with him having major input in the sequencing and perhaps even in any words that might (or might not) grow out of it all.
    Hi Irenaeus, He completely lost interest in the camera. It takes too much time and he still prefers his Lego and dinosaurs.

    Quote Originally Posted by nostatic View Post
    Great imagery. Have you considered a keyboard/synthesizer/sequencer? My son was a handful (diagnosed ADHD) and while him taking pictures occupied him on occasion (especially doing time lapse stills), he also found some interesting "space" playing one of my keyboards, picking out weird sounds and layering them. Visual and aural and kind of different "channels" and can get to different spots in the brain/soul. I have midi recordings from when my son was 5-6 years old that are pretty amazing. Thankfully he's now going on 13 and mostly "grew out" of his handfullness. Well...some of the time
    We have been considering music as a form of therapy. He loves music and helps him create order.

    Quote Originally Posted by mwalker View Post
    Wouter, my daughter has aspergers. I know exactly what you are portraying. Nice work.
    My thoughts are with you Mike.

    Thank you all for your encouraging comments and taking the time to see my photographs.

  43. #43
    benneh
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    Re: Autism

    One of my three sons has Autism as well....he sees the world in a much more beautiful way than most humans.....but that's sometimes hard to remember....

    I can relate completely to your post and the pictures and what it all means.

    Breathe ;-)

  44. #44
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Thank you benneh. All the best with your family. Maybe the hardest part for us is actually trying to understand both their worlds. Learning every inch feels like a milestone, as long as we are getting closer to them and they not moving further away from us.

  45. #45
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    Re: Autism

    just ran across this. it might be helpful and inspiring for those of you with autistic children:

    http://www.olivefilms.com/Documentar...DVD_.4507.html

    wayne
    www.pbase.com/wwp

  46. #46
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    Re: Autism

    Hi Wouter,

    I just came across this thread. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures and your thoughts and feelings. As a father of two young children I am very touched by them.

    "Heel veel sterkte!" :-)

    Best,
    Selmar

  47. #47
    wbrandsma
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    Re: Autism

    Dank je wel, Selmar.

    And Wayne, you might also want to have a look at The Horse Boy.

    All the best for 2010.

  48. #48
    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Autism

    Wouter, one of my students is autistic; in his case, definitely no disability, at all—rather, a narrowness of focus (if I may) that has within it its own gifts; its own unique perspective. As well, if I may say, your son at eight years old, is perhaps not able to be 'read' yet in the ordinary world: his gifts (and surely they are there, waiting to unfold) have not been seen, so far.

    And, personally (like dickinsonjon, above?), had I been your son's age now, I am sure that I would have been diagnosed with Asberger's (at least!). That this was not the case has not hindered me in the slightest. It's all good, truly.

    Lastly, lovely images. Definitely how I see the world—all the ordinary things that excite me tremendously, yet are so often missed by people standing right next to me, ostensibly seeing the same things. Thanks you, sincerely. The book suggestion, using your present gear, is an excellent idea.

    @ Jono; you wrote:

    So I guess that I'm asking whether the pictures are an attempt to define your feelings, or an effort to indicate his feelings.
    From one perspective (a viewer with no context given, like when in a gallery with images and no words) it does not matter, it seems to me. What do the images say (or not say) to you? My guess (and that's all) is that Wouter is attempting to depict the reality he thinks/feel his son experiences. cheers all, kl

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