When my autistic son, Nat, was about 8, we learned that he loved looking at family photos on my husband’s computer. This discovery rocked my family’s world. Before then, we did not know that Nat enjoyed our faces. He had never seemed that comfortable looking at or talking to us. Perhaps he liked the unchangeable nature of pictures, their static predictability. Or maybe the stillness of photos gave him the space to process his thoughts.
“Go there,” Nat would say, pointing at an image from my mother’s house during Passover. Once we understood that the house, our family and the holidays were things Nat liked, my son Max started taking pictures of them and we’d put them on the laptop for Nat. Laptop photos gave Max something in common with his older brother, perhaps for the first time.