• Welcome to my Sun Prairie photographer blog. You will find images from my recent photography sessions including maternity photography, baby photography, and family photography. I also do sessions with newborns, toddlers, children of all ages, seniors, and special needs photography including families living with autism. Each photo session is just as unique as the people standing before me and it's always a pleasure capturing just who they are.

    My photography business is based in Sun Prairie, WI, although I also serve the surrounding Madison areas including Stoughton, Oregon, Verona, Middleton, Monona, Fitchburg, DeForest, Mount Horeb, Waunakee and Cottage Grove. Feel free to peek at my site here or contact me at carrie@carrieanciaux.com or (608)834-9303 for information about booking a session. To see my style on the Flash Gallery, check out my website.

  • Right now!

    April is Autism Awareness Month! Stop by the blog all of April to read the stories and view the images of this year's 13 Stories of Autism participants. Also stop by the Stories of Autism national site at www.storiesofautism.com to view the nation-wide gallery of subjects.

  • Carrie in the News!

    Carrie's Stories of Autism photography has been featured on NBC 15 Madison's news. Check out their website for more information!

alyson, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

It was a pleasure to meet this young lady and learn about all of her interests!  She finds many things interesting like fashion and beautiful movie stars!  I especially appreciate how she was kind to share her own story, in her own words.  Thank you, Aly, for teaching others a little what is like to live with autism.  You are a special girl and a real sweetheart!

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Alyson’s Story

My name is Aly. I am 12 years old and I have autism.

I have a hard time communicating with people I don’t know at all but with other people I have good communication. It’s hard to make friends when you have autism because you have to get better at communicating.

I get confused when I am in a room and I don’t know what is going on. I sometimes move in an awkward way that I call bumbling. I can be nervous and shy when I have to be in a group and when there are a lot of other people around. I started middle school this year and it helped to go to a summer class to learn about middle school and practice going to classes and meeting some teachers.   Teachers are very important to me and I have a lot of favorite teachers. When I am at school I sometimes get angry about the other kids talking so much, so lunch and recess are really hard for me.

When I was a baby I was smiley and liked to be held. I didn’t talk or respond to my name. When I was two my mom and dad say I started getting sad and upset a lot. I started learning how to talk though and only really started talking a lot when I was five years old. I was really good at puzzles when I was little but didn’t play much with my big sister. I did therapy in my house and that helped me learn how to talk and got me ready for school.

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I am confident about the things that are easy for me, like writing, reading and doing research on things I like to be on my computer. I like words. I have always been good at spelling and I learn what words mean pretty fast. I love movies the best. I like to be alone without anybody around and ask why I have to try new things. My mom and dad say it’s not good for me to be by myself all the time.   They want me to do things to try to become more brave and to be more courageous in public, so I have done dance recitals, a fashion show, choir, and I’m going to try theater this spring. If something is different from my schedule I get very nervous about it but then I usually end up having a good time and glad I did it.

I know that sometimes kids with autism can do wrong things that can make people mad at them. But that’s because they don’t know what to do. We need people to help us understand and that’s what helps us learn what to do. Autism is a hard thing to have but it gets easier the older you get.

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For the final shot of our session, Aly requested her sister join her… and now, Miss Aly has become a big sister this week! I’m so excited to meet and capture the newest arrival to the family very soon!

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Chandu Vemuri - April 22, 2016 - 11:54 am

Aly you are one sweet girl. A lot of what you wrote is probably what my daughter Sandhya would say if she could.

hendrix, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

I love word of mouth. It’s the the best compliment ever. And, that’s exactly how this little guy came my way. His grandma is friends with a wonderful woman named Chandu whose daughter I photographed for the project a couple of years ago. It didn’t take long for him to get ‘spiffied up’ with a little help from Dad and we were ready to roll.
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Hendrix’s Story

Our son was a typical baby meeting most milestones on schedule. He had a lot of energy and his behavior was difficult at times to get under control. He wasn’t speaking or wanting to mimic any words. At times he went into his own little world, wouldn’t respond when we called his name. He didn’t play with typical toys for his age but loved any type of gadgets. He was diagnosed with Autism when he was two and a half years old.

Hendrix is now five years old and has made very good progress. He is getting intensive at home therapy seven days a week, plus he is in 4 year old Kindergarten. He is very well behaved, very social, loves people and everybody loves him! Hendrix has several phrases he uses appropriately, he tries to repeat anything you say, and he has many signs that he uses along with the words. He has also learned to write his name, and many letters and numbers. Hendrix really enjoys school and riding the bus.

Some of Hendrix’s favorite activities are swimming, climbing, playing with his dogs, loves watching movies on his iPad, wrestling with his Dad, and bossing around his little sister, Veda. He also loves shopping with his Mom, and going out to eat (these are two things we could never do with him when he was younger, now he does great!) He is a good helper in the kitchen, enjoys cooking and baking with his parents. He loves helping out with yard work. He really enjoys digging in the dirt and sand, and looking for bugs, worms, and frogs.

Although we know Hendrix has a ways to go with his communication skills, we know he will get there. He is so smart and he understands, he just gets frustrated when he can’t make us understand what he is trying to say. Hendrix loves to learn and we are confident that he will continue to make progress. He’s come so far, and we are excited to see where he takes us next.

-Joe & Scarlett L.
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h0118And, then we took to the great outdoors. It was a gorgeously, mild winter day. Hendrix was completely in his element and I could really begin to see how humorous, full of joy, curious and determined this little boy is. How very special.
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My favorite sequence of all time: Name your target… Shoot and hit… and He’s down!
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Lastly, a portrait taken by Hendrix, himself, of his dear Daddy. Not bad, little friend, not bad.
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autism awareness day 2016 | stories of autism, carrie anciaux photography

Welcome back to the blog, friends! Today is April 2nd and the fifth “World Autism Awareness Day” where I’ll have the privilege of sharing images and stories on my blog from my experience as a volunteer photographer for the national Stories of Autism project. Charlie Cotugno, a Washington state photographer, is the founder of this non-profit project which focuses on increasing awareness, acceptance and inclusion of individuals on the autism spectrum. About five years ago after taking a hiatus from being a speech/language pathologist in the schools to focus on photography full-time, his mission became my mission.

Each April, Autism Awareness Month, Charlie updates the national Stories of Autism website to include the current year’s gallery (it’s LIVE now!). You’ll find not only the individuals I have photographed this year there but also people from all of the world’s images and stories. Please stop by and check this project out and read the unique and special stories. The images are Beautiful. Powerful. Special. Just like the individuals whose essence are captured.

All throughout this month, my blog also highlights the participants (so bookmark this page, friends). Images from their session, as well as their personally written stories, are shared so that others might see a glimpse into what it truly means to have autism. “Awareness” of what it means to have an autism spectrum disorder has quickly evolved into encouraging other to choose “acceptance”. The goal is always understanding and patience and learning tolerance for how God made us. We are all different. Unique. This year, you’ll meet Alyson and Hendrix, our newest ‘family’ members, so please check back frequently right here.

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The Stories of Autism project has touched many lives here in the Madison, WI area. This project has given me a platform to give to a cause that I feel passionate about and most importantly, bring people together. Let me explain how…In 2013, I photographed Amelia (cutie pie, below) for the Stories of Autism project. Shortly after this, her momma, Clara, had the brilliant idea of creating an event where families I had photographed could come together and meet in person. She was so moved (and could relate) to many of the stories shared on the blog that she felt others too, might enjoy the networking, friendship and support a group could offer. She was absolutely right. The Stories of Autism picnic is now in its 4th year of planning. Both child participants, siblings and parents have enjoyed the picnic festivities of the humongous bouncy house, butterfly release and delicious eats. While the food was amazing last year, new and renewed friendships are the biggest joys of our picnic. This year, our picnic will be on August 6th. We’re hoping for a great turn out, another year of conversation, smiles and giggles, and a tad better weather than last year!

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Thank you for visiting the blog! Enjoy!
Peace,

will, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

He was one of the first students I met as a new Speech/Language Pathologist to the local school district.   I came well equipped as a newly trained PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) therapist and was ready to make a difference with kids who were non-verbal.  He was a second grader who was petite, smiley, loveable.   We worked on functional communication by teaching him to request his most favorite things:  musical toys, board books, videos, Elmo.  He was easily pleased by most anything in his box full of reinforcers which went where ever he went.  He rocked, he spun his string, he licked his palms.  Here all along I thought I was teaching Will something important and life-long when really it was quite the reverse.

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Terry and I found out I was pregnant right after I landed my first full time job teaching. My other 3 children were in middle school and very close in age. The age span between the youngest and Will is 12 years. Will was born October 15, 1999, about a week after my 42nd birthday. We named him William Robert.   William was his grandfather’s name and Robert was from another special friend. He was born at 5:06 pm at Meriter Hospital in Madison. We knew because of my age that I had a greater chance of having a Down Syndrome child, but we chose not to find out during my pregnancy. Will’s birth was without complications and I worked all day teaching. We did not know until the next day that he had Down Syndrome. He was little, but so were my other three children, James, Katie, and David. We were lucky that he did not have any other complications like heart problems, so we were able to take him home that next day.
Will went everywhere with us because our children were very involved with school and sports activities. His first music concert was when he was 3 days old. Our daughter, Katie, had a band concert at the High School Auditorium. This should have been an indicator of his love of music. Our lives continued on through his baby, toddler and and preschool age as a typical Down Syndrome child with delayed milestones. He never really crawled, he scooted, and he finally started walking when he was 18 months. He was very small for his age. Will loved to smile and was always a happy child. He would interact with babies and played with his brothers and sister and loved to tease our dog and cat.

willblog05willblog02Will went to early childhood at age 3 and daycare while I was at work. At about 3½ we started noticing that he was not talking very much. We were told that that was typical of children with Down Syndrome and not to worry. We had him in birth to 3 for physical therapy and speech therapy. Will would take a string and twirl it around and around and he was also rocking and making noise when he was sitting. He would play musical toys over and over again, many times it was the same short lyric. He was also not giving eye contact like he had been. We were informed by school personnel that these types of symptoms might be an indicator of autism. He was diagnosed by the time he was 5 and he had stopped talking except 1-2 words.
This added diagnosis was very difficult to accept. We did not have that much knowledge of autism and how that would affect his learning. We started to read and tried to do the programs they suggested for autistic children, but found out that much of his learning needed to be changed when he was younger. We had 3 children in high school/college so we decided to continue with public school and to provide the best we could for him. We noticed he had sensory issues and stopped touching animals including stuffed animals. It took a lot of behavior modification to get him to hold stuffed animals. Finally we used musical stuffed animals to change this. He is still unwilling to touch real animals, but lately he found u tube videos of barking dogs and that is helping him be less nervous about touching dogs.

willblog01willblog03Today, Will is an amazing 15 years old who loves Special Olympics bowling, running track/softball throw and his greatest love is music and computers. He is able to use Garage Band on his I Pad and is creating music during band and at home. He loves swimming, our boat, and the convertible where he wants to go fast all the time. He likes the air through his hands and face. Will is still non verbal, but is becoming more vocal with sounds. We are hoping some day to hear the words Mama and Dadda again. He uses a communication system and is able to tell what he wants through that technology. He is a happy young man who has a laugh that is so contagious he will make others around him laugh and smile. He is an uncle and loves to face-time with his nephew who is 4 months old and who also has an October birthday. He is helping out more at home putting his dishes up to the counter, doing small chores around the house, and loves seeing his brother, David, after school who is helping watch him. He has an incredible memory and remembers where things are even if he hasn’t been somewhere for a long time. Will is a special young man who has enriched our lives and the lives of his classmates and people he has met. Many of his classmates come up to him in the community and make a special effort to say hello to him. He continues to provide us with love and keeps us young.

Life doesn’t always gives us what we want, but God will only give us what he knows we can handle. The journey has had its twists and trials but we watch as he continues to grow into the wonderful adult he is becoming and continue to hope that he will be able to achieve all he is capable of achieving. We have been blessed with 4 children who are all different, but continue to show us the meaning of love and life.

Leanne and Terry,  Parents of Will

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A special thanks to all who have contributed to the Carrie Anciaux Photography Stories of Autism Annual Picnic.   This picnic invites the 47 families that I’ve photographed over the past 4 years together for an afternoon of fun.  Some families will meet for the first time while others reunite knowing that no judgement is placed on behaviors or appearances.   Love, support and friendship is offered at no cost.  Last year’s group released butterflies as a symbol of “spreading autism awareness and acceptance”.  This moment was definitely one of the best memories I have from that day last August.  If you’d like to support our picnic, please visit this site and donate $5, $10 or any amount you’d like.  Each $5 increment will earn a raffle ticket for a drawing to win a Carrie Anciaux Photography photo session & $100 photo credit or a Judy Endow unique print.  Drawing will be held May 1st.  Thank you to all who support and love someone on the autism spectrum!

-Carrie

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grace, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

Her head faces away while her index finger pounds they letters on the keyboard.   “I’m not good at this.”  her Mom, Vicki, translates for me.  She sits in her swing feeling connected to safety and sways back and forth slowly. Her face is sweet and beautiful but she has a fire in her eyes too.

Just like many others I photograph, she was wearing a new shirt for the occasion and had had a recent hair cut.  Just like so many others when I first arrive and unveil my heavy-duty camera, she felt a bit anxious.    And just like many others who step in front of my camera, Grace relaxed and let her true self be known.  Thank you, Grace, for being just like so many of us.

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Grace’s Story

“I want people to understand autism is an important aspect of my life.”

My name is Grace. I have a brother, sister, mom and dad. I will be 21 on June 4th, 2015.   I have lived in three places in my life. First with my family in Deforest until I was 15. Then I lived at ODTC for 2 years and I liked it there. It’s where I found myself after I had lost my way.

Now I live in Middleton with a roommate.  I go to Middleton High School. This year I am taking Geometry and Sociology. I’m happiest when I’m at school and staying busy and focused.   I talk by typing and using my iPad. I feel nervous when people don’t know I can’t talk because they probably think I am just stupid.  I know I am not stupid but it makes me nervous that I can’t talk to them and tell them that.

I am on a journey and I am getting better at living it just the way I am.   I want to be a person who helps others but I need to find myself first.   It is hard to be me and I struggle every day to not push people away.

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Things in People Which I Like:

-They talk to me

-They say that I am smart

-They ask me to type with them

– They are quiet

-They give me help when I need it.

-They don’t worry about catching autism

What I’d like you to know:

Listen carefully to people like me because we are not good at being who we were meant to be.

Grace

graceblog05We’re only 10 days into Autism Awareness month and our mission of raising funds for the annual Stories of Autism picnic is underway!  I’m so pleased to say friends and families are stepping up – Thank you for your donations so far both to me personally and to the fundraising site!  This picnic will invite all 47 participants including Grace and her family together for an afternoon of friendship, sensory-based activities and smiles.  Balloon animals, a bouncy house, painted faces, pony rides and T-shirts saying “I told my story.” are all covered by your gifts.  Each $5 gift increment enters the giver into a raffle to win a Carrie Anciaux Photography photo session & $100 credit OR a Judy Endow original print.   Drawing will be made on May 1st.  Thank you for your support!

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