Welsh photographer and father, Glenn Gameson-Burrows, has enjoyed taking photos of his two daughters as a pastime—especially Aneira, who has autism spectrum disorder.
To raise awareness of Aneira and other children on the autism spectrum, the father was inspired to explore the condition and take photos of other children with autism. Soon, the images became a series Gameson-Burrows called “Magpie.”
The title of the series is associated with the father’s nickname for his little girl. “As a very young child Aneira was always drawn towards shiny objects much like someone with Magpie Syndrome. I usually call her my little Magpie.”For the photographer, this series has a special message. “A screaming child in your supermarket isn’t always a naughty child. A stressed-out parent isn’t a bad parent. A child lining things up, hiding objects, eating food in a strange manner or making strange noises isn’t uneducated or rude, just different.”
“My hope is that these photographs will make people think,” he noted, adding that he wants others to realize that autism isn’t always visible.
The father described parenting a child who has ASD as “tiring, uncertain, frustrating, stressful, heartbreaking, challenging and loud.” But most of all, he mentioned, it’s rewarding.
“Every day Aneira amazes us—to the normal parent it may not seem like much but the first time Aneira held our hands without running away was huge for our family,” he said. “The more we see her develop the more rewarding it is and makes those hard days and nights worth it. We are on a journey and we are doing the best we can.”
This series is an important step in the right direction of helping to broaden how autism is thought of, and how it is represented. For me, personally, I love how these photos present children with autism in such candid ways. These photos show the innocence, love and the uniqueness in each child. They show that autism is a spectrum, that, there isn’t one way to think about autism, or one image that defines the condition.
The father hopes that this project will motivate Wales, where the photographer and his family resides, to get better policy in place for those who have autism. From getting more resources to help early diagnoses, implementing better support systems, and backing autism in the workforce—on a global scale—everyone needs to be more inclusive and understanding of those on the autism spectrum.
In working with so many different children who have ASD, Gameson-Burrows noticed how “they all have different personalities, obsessions, routines and at time difficulty communicating and making sense of everything around them.”
“Everyone is different and everyone has challenges in their lives,” he exclaimed. “This is our challenge, but I love that our daughter is different. These are great kids, and to be honest if we took more notice we could learn a thing or two ourselves.”
To see the rest of the “Magpie” series, click here.
All images via Glenn GB Photography.