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