Labeling Maddox Ryan

Nearly 6.5 years ago a little boy entered this world 8 weeks too soon weighing only 2 pounds.  He was born a fighter and he hasn’t stopped fighting since.  His name…Maddox Ryan and he is my nephew.  My sister’s second son beat the odds and came home from the hospital, two months later, on Christmas Eve 2007.  My sister is an amazing woman – she would give you her last dollar if you needed it, she has a heart of gold and would do anything for her boys and has been the biggest advocate for Maddox since the day he was born.  I honestly wonder sometimes how she has managed to do it all…she is a single Mom,  and until about a year ago she was a full-time student finishing her college degree.  Now she’s a preschool teacher and continues to be a full-time advocate for Maddox.  Maddox also has two other advocates – the best big brother a kid could ask for, David; and my Mom, his Nana.

There are many words that could be used to describe Maddox.  His Mommy says above all he is “sweet, loving, and quirky.”  Nana describes him as “loving, quirky, and musical.”  I would agree with those but also add the labels of “funny, inquisitive, and strong” to the list.  When his Mommy and Nana call him quirky it’s because he is…but aren’t all children in one way or another?   He has to have things a certain way, or at a certain time, he can watch music shows and Dinosaur Dan obsessively and loves fire trucks but that’s who Maddox is.  But of all the labels we gave Maddox not a single one labeled him as “autistic” but the reality is that he is autistic but that label only matters in medical and educational terms.  He is so much more than that one word – he is a fighter, he is strong and while I know he has battles to face as the grows older I know that his mom will be there to cheer him on every step of the way.  In honor of Autism Awareness Month in April, I wanted to share  with you the boy beyond the label.

Sadly I don’t get to see my family as often as I would like to since they live 1000 miles away in Kentucky.  But I always take pictures of them when we go “home” to visit them in the summers.

Here are a few of my favorites from this past summer while we were visiting family in Kentucky.

All film images processed and scanned by The Find Lab  Color images are Portra 400, B&W is Tri-x 400 and Acros 100.  Images taken with a Canon 1V or Mamiya c330

Now please continue the Film Mama Blog Circle on over the amazingly talented Marla Cyree at Simply Splendid

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12 thoughts on “Labeling Maddox Ryan

  1. These images are so powerful! It’s great that Maddox has such a great family and people who understand and love him fully! What a beautiful boy and these images show that!

  2. Full disclosure – I have the awesome privilege of being Lisa and Jonetta’s Mom and Nana to those four treasures so beautifully photographed. Maddox is my little hero. I recall holding him in the NICU, and he fit in my arm between elbow and wrist–and I have short arms! I thought of the miracle of life and the prayers, love, and medical science that helped Maddox fight for life. Fight and still fighting–He is my little hero. Lisa, you captured with words and images how special my Doodlebug is (my nick name for Maddox). Lisa is correct–He has the best Mom and Big Brother (David) in the world. Everything Maddox has gotten, every medicine he is given, every doctor and therapist he sees, every accomplishment–is all due to Jonetta alone. I am so proud of her. And David is so patient with Maddox, protective and loving, and lets the “little man” hang out with him in his room. Aunt Lisa is the most loving aunt ever! Lisa, you’ve produced a very compelling story with words and images. I’m proud of you.
    Love, Mom/Nana (aka Jerry)

  3. Great story! We are neighbors and my son Andrew (11) has a special relationship with Maddox. He is a very special young man.

  4. I love this post. I love your heart. I am so glad God has given you the great blessing of these children. You are a treasure. Love, Becky

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