The Waldrop Family | Lake Elsinore, CA | Birdie & Bear Photography
This beautiful Spectrum Inspired session was documented by Jaclyn of Birdie & Bear Photography. Thank you Jaclyn for volunteering your time and work and helping us document this sweet family and their beautiful journey.
Words from Jillian, Emily and Oliver’s moms:
“I am Jillian, and my husband is Nick and we have two amazing kids who are both autistic.
We live in a different world than most people. Some days our world is full of struggles, and battles and lots of parenting curveballs that have been chucked our way. But it’s also full of light, and love, and a reality that I think most people just don’t quite tap into. We celebrate the little things here. We don’t judge others because we ourselves have been judged so harshly just for daring to step outside our doors with our children. Most every day we have situations that are so hilarious, and unexpected and REAL. There is no pretending in our household. We are who we are, and there is something so freeing in that.
It wasn’t always this way of course. We’re 6 years into this new world, and we have learned many tricks and tools along the way to help us help our kids be the best humans they can be. Our daughter Emily has been a force to be reckoned with ever since she came on the scene. Long before we got a diagnosis we knew something was different. She was not a typical baby, and very little soothed her. When we finally got her diagnosis at age 3 we were relieved to have a name for the thing we had known about our child since she was born. We got to work getting her into all the supports she needed to thrive.
She speaks to us, she has friends. She wants to paint her toenails with me and have “spa days” and many, many more of the things that the psychologist told us on that dark day that she would never achieve. I’m so glad we didn’t believe her that day.
When I was pregnant with my son I was mostly terrified. I knew the risks. I wasn’t afraid of having another autistic child, but more afraid that I as a mother would be stretched too thin if he was. He came out healthy as can be, and hit every milestone on time if not early. We were so surprised when he said “mama” at 6 months! Who knew a child could speak so early?! It was amazing. When Oliver was 13 months old things started to change. We saw the signs and similarities and intervened as quickly as we could. He was diagnosed in March of this year. He is learning and growing so quickly, he has an intense love of animals, especially Tigers. He can name pretty much any safari animal, and loves to run and play. He and Emily are so very different in their likes and dislikes. But so are most siblings, so no too different really. It’s been a learning curve for my husband Nick and I in terms of what “typical” parenting looks like. We have had to adjust our sails on many occasions to find what works with each of our children, and what works for us as a family. Our priorities are SO different than I imagined they would be. I truly think it’s for the best that this is the life I live. I don’t think that I would have been the kind of mother I was meant to be otherwise. Our focus is not on competing with our friends to see whose kid is doing better. We don’t give a crap about honor roll, or perfect attendance. We make more than a few allowances for our kids in the name of sanity, but our kids are HAPPY. And that is what’s important.
Everything I thought I knew about Autism, about disability in general is just dead wrong. I’m so glad that I live in this new world. A world that is vibrant, and supremely real. Full of love and hardships, and everything in between. Our parenting journey may look different because we are dealing with a different set of circumstances, but our kids are the same as any other. They just want to feel loved, and accepted by the people they share this life with.”