• 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!

lauren & ashlyn, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

Okay, so today’s a two for one dealy!  It’s no secret that Autism Awareness Month is slipping by and the fact is I’ve still got some very special people to share with you!  Meet twin sisters,  Lauren & Ashlyn.  These crafty ladies are treat-eatin’ and swing-lovin’ sisters who live with hearing disabilities and a diagnosis of autism.   I enjoyed a fun-filled hour of hanging out with these gorgeous girls and their dedicated parents for the Stories of Autism project.     Bless you, little sweet peas!

smythe13 copysmythe36 copy

Lauren’s Story

Lauren Elise came into this world 2 months early. She is older than her twin sister by four minutes. Lauren failed the newborn hearing test in one ear leaving the hospital, so within her first month we discovered she had moderate to severe hearing loss and would need to wear hearing aids.  Lauren worked with several therapists in her early months and it was through those therapists that we had realized there were some developmental delays to be concerned about.

smythe24 copy

smythe21 copy

When she was two years old, we took Lauren to see a hearing specialist at the Waisman Center in Madison, WI. It was there that we learned there was something more going on than just her hearing loss. I left that appointment completely devastated, though we still did not have a diagnosis.We followed-up with a visit to a Pediatric Neurologist who did testing and ultimately gave us a diagnosis of Autism. I tried so hard to hold back the tears in his office that day, but I could not. I was almost mad when he offered me the box of tissues, I did not want anyone’s pity. That day in his office, I had no idea what the future held for my girls or our family.

Untitled-1

smythe25

After a good cry, I was done. No more feeling sorry about the situation, it was time to take action. We got involved right away with intensive home therapy where Lauren learned so much. We were blessed with a wonderful set of therapist, most of who we still keep in touch with today even though the girls no longer receive their services.

Today Lauren is a very busy 5-year-old who is in Kindergarten. Lauren continues to have speech and OT therapy 3 nights a week. She speaks very minimally and is easily frustrated by her lack of being able to communicate, resulting in daily crying sessions. She loves to color (especially with brown crayon) and loves the guitar. She loves to be outdoors when possible and is so happy when she is swinging. Her laugh is magical and her smile, which does not come out nearly enough, lights up the room.

smythe46 copy

smythe28 copy

The road has not been easy but I am blessed to be her mommy and I continue to pray that her journey will be a successful one where I will be behind her every step of the way.

Kelli, mother of Lauren

smythe03 copy

Ashlyn’s Story

Ashlyn Helena was born two months early and is 4 minutes younger than her twin sister, Lauren.  Ashlyn passed her newborn hearing screening, so we were not aware of her hearing loss until she was about 6 months old. Call it a mother’s intuition that prompted me to have a hearing test done on her as well. It was confirmed that she had moderate to severe hearing loss and would also need to wear hearing aids.

The story of how we came upon Ashlyn’s Autism diagnosis is the same as Lauren’s. We found out the diagnoses at the same time. Not only one, but two of my children had Autism.
Untitled-11Untitled-21
Ashlyn took off with her therapy. She did not let anything stop her and really learned a lot from our wonderful therapists.

Ashlyn is now 5-years-old and in Kindergarten. She is full of spunk and “questions.” She also has speech and OT 3 nights a week and speaks minimally along with signing. She is always busy and such a smiley little girl. She is definitely a mommy’s girl, always by my side when I am home. She loves her “cell phone” and always needs it near her. She loves to clean and snuggle. Her laugh will make even the grumpiest person smile.

smythe30 copy

Untitled-3
I continue to pray for Ashlyn’s journey as well. I am blessed to be her mother and I am one of her biggest fans. I will do whatever I can to help her be successful.

Kelli, mother of Ashlyn

And, our April fundraiser to support the Stories of Autism Picnic is winding down in a week so please consider donating to this event here.  Thank you to those friends and families who have already helped us out!

soapicnic01

Gretchen - April 24, 2014 - 8:18 am

LOVE these images of these beautiful girls. Thank you for sharing their story!

morgan, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

This Stories of Autism project has evolved into a wonderful web of relationships and connections in the Madison, WI area.   Families hear of me through friends who also have children on the spectrum and have participated in a photo session for the cause.   Autism awareness paired with special images of their youngsters, who may be tough to photograph traditionally, lead them my way.  This little lady, Morgan, won my heart the moment I saw her.  She wore a cuddly, bright-colored fleece and had a smile that could light up the room.   She has an amazing, loving family and equally inspiring Story of Autism.

morganautism05

Morgan’s Story

The year 2004 had just begun and we couldn’t wait to start our family. Little did we know just how strong our family would be and just how big our extended family would become.

As a 1lb 10oz surviving triplet, Morgan has been our little peanut from birth. We knew from the start that she was a determined little girl who continued to endure further obstacles. Morgan’s inability to orally consume nourishment required placement of a gastrostomy tube, also known as a “g-tube” for feeding.

Still, we knew something else was not quite right, she wasn’t talking.  We continued our visits with specialty doctors from the Waisman Center, who followed Morgan’s development. Then in November 2006, we received the Autism diagnosis. Our world and our direction changed forever. Autism, what is it and what does that mean? To Morgan, it meant nothing, except meeting numerous new friends/therapists.

morganautism01morganautism02

From the “Birth to Three” program therapists that helped Morgan learn to sit, crawl and eventually walk, to “IDS Integrated Development Service” therapists who came to our home for the next few years teaching her daily living skills and a new way to talk. We attended a new pilot program that is now called “Common Threads”, for those very same needs.

We are also thankful to many others who have been influential in Morgan’s care and development – nurses, family members, new and existing friends, Family Support & Resource Center of Dane County, United Cerebral Palsy, The Waisman Center Augmentative Communication Aids & Systems Clinic (CASC) and our very own Middleton Cross Plains school district. Autism has brought to us, another family that we wouldn’t have known.

We are most thankful to Morgan’s two sets of grandparents who live close by; we relied on them constantly to get through each day, week, and year. A phone call and they were there to help. Morgan just beams with smiles when they come to visit.

morganautism03morganautism06morganautism07morganautism08

For all of us that know Morgan, she has given us an appreciation for the little things. Her constant smiles and giggles make your day along with her love for stuffed animals, “Clifford  the Big Red Dog,” “Blue,” and “Abby Cadabby” are a few of her favorites.

Morgan’s medical challenges and autism require us to provide her with constant guidance and attention. But the time you spend with her is personal and so rewarding. Her learning abilities may be challenged but she has an understanding for providing those around her with the biggest hugs and high fives, making all of our days, and even a complete stranger’s day, a little bit brighter.  Anyone that remotely resembles Morgan’s grandmothers is fair game to be hugged in her eyes.

morganautism09morganautism10morganautism11

In this busy world we “thank you,” Morgan, for showing us how to appreciate the little things.

Perry & Wendy, Morgan’s Parents

And, one of those “little things” is when kids with similar special needs have the opportunity to gather and play together worry-free of acceptance.  Please support our August 2nd Carrie Anciaux Photography | Stories of Autism Picnic by donating here.   Your monies will help us bring in pony rides and a bounce house for sensory needs, purchase t-shirts for the participants, and have gluten-free food for the families.  See three new friends, below.  Thank you!

boyssmall

 

owen, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

Owen and his little brother Henry (whom you’ll meet soon) live on a farm just outside of town.  You’ll see by the pictures below that this hands-on little guy has some real skills in the area of assembling and maneuvering.  This obvious strength of his is sure to come in handy if he follows Daddy’s footsteps someday on the farm.   Enjoy Owen’s Story of Autism and his handsome smile!

owenblog02

Owen’s Story

Eight years ago, we were blessed with our son Owen. He was born five weeks premature, and what a huge surprise he was. After a brief stay in the hospital, things seemed to roll along just fine, and Owen hit every milestone that was expected. He was a fun baby!

At age two, Owen seemed to be having difficulties. There were a lot of verbal outbursts, aggression, and he was content to just sit and watch TV. He didn’t seem to engage with peers his own age either.  I did some reading and tried different parenting strategies from books. Nothing seemed to click.

owenblog01

After discussing Owen’s situation with his preschool teacher and pediatrician, we went to a child psychologist who immediately had Owen diagnosed with ADHD. We went through several different medicines to assist with that, and finally were able to get him an appointment at the Waisman center where he went through several additional screenings.

During Owens appointment, my husband and I watched him through a double window, and even he knew there was something on the other side. We just cracked up. His answers to questions can make you bend over in laughter, and that is what he was doing to that poor therapist. More so than ever though, we knew our son needed a different approach to many things in his life.

After that appointment, we learned that Owen was on the Autism spectrum. He was four years old.

owenblog04owenblog05

A whirlwind of thoughts came through us, and actually a sigh of relief. See, we all have the abilities to work with any situation; we just need the right tools. The books I was reading never were anything to do with Autism. I never even thought, of it and I didn’t know much about it actually. Autism was the character portrayed in the movie “Rainman,” and that’s not Owen. But it was, in a different way.

The books I had been quickly put to the back of my desk and a whole new approach to learning how to parent my child came along. Many times we felt that our son didn’t fit the criteria of being on the spectrum, but we just couldn’t do it on our own. His intensive therapy services greatly helped.  Although hard to accommodate at times, it was much needed.

owenblog03

Owen is a very intriguing kid. He loves art and has an awesome sense of humor. Owen is very innovative in his work.   He builds bridges and dams in his sandbox and will take days to do it, and no one better enter that sandbox! He can paint a swing set, pretty well actually, and put a Lego set together in minutes. Some larger Lego sets he will patiently await for someone to help him (and he will make sure that person comes to help him) and then when the gears don’t work quite right, he can discuss the issue over the phone with an adult and find the problem. And he’ll fix it.  A mechanic, engineer, maybe even an artist I see in him. Maybe a standup comedian or all of the above mixed together. I really do see it.  I see great potential in my son.

Although he can turn a switch on us sometimes and make us take a longer path to get to our destination, we do get there.  Some days are faster than others.

Renee, mother of Owen

There’s still time to donate to support our annual Stories of Autism Picnic.  Thank you!

c&hblog

 

Ali Buss - April 17, 2014 - 3:24 pm

Awesome story!

Kimberly Johnson Kelly - April 18, 2014 - 5:03 am

Very nice!

andrew, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

I heard Andrew present about his autism to a roomful of elementary students about a year ago.  Kids sat criss-cross and teachers rimmed the perimeter of the room as he displayed pictures and read text from a Prezi that he had created himself.  He spoke about the things he likes to do and what bugs him.  He described how he learns best and situations that are difficult for him.  Andrew understands his autism which shows in the form of Asperger’s Syndrome and is taking steps to teach others about it, too.  This is when I knew I would ask him to participate in Stories of Autism for he has a gift that needs to be shared.  Thank you, Andrew, for writing what it means to have autism to you.

andrewblog01

My Story

My name is Andrew and I am a miracle. I wasn’t breathing when I was born and I had to spend some time in the NICU. I was strong willed and I am still today. I remember the day I found out I had autism. I was in the third grade and I had just ripped a hole in our couch when my mom and dad said they wanted to talk to me. I thought I was in big trouble! Instead my parents handed me two books and told me to go into my bedroom and read them. They also said to come out when I was done so we could talk. They did not have to wait long- I am a fast reader! I walked out of my room and asked. “Am I gonna die?” I was pretty scared, confused and a bit curious. After talking with my mom and dad the pieces of the puzzle started to come together. I even remember saying, “It all makes sense now!” I have always been open and honest about my autism. In fact, I even embrace it. I have shared myself and my experiences with my homerooms, my fellow Boy Scouts and even more recently I created a presentation about my life with autism. I then shared it with all the kids at my old elementary school and even some of my peers at my middle school. I am pretty proud of that!

My autism can be a challenge, but mostly it’s a gift. I think in so many different ways.  I can be very irrational and extremely passionate. I love my family, my God and school. I love to learn. I want to be a Marine Biologist and would love swim with sharks one day. I love my life and would not change it for anything in the world. To quote my mom, “Andrew may have Asperger’s, but Asperger’s does not have Andrew!”

Andrew

andrewblog02andrewblog03andrewblog04andrewblog05andrewblog06andrewblog07andrewblog08

Thank you for supporting our fundraising campaign to support the Carrie Anciaux Photography | Stories of Autism Picnic.  Your financial gifts will help cover entertainment costs, T-shirts and food for the kids and families who gather.  Please donate your gift here. Thank you!

soapicnic181

Mark Brehmer - April 14, 2014 - 9:36 pm

Awesome, just like Andrew!!!

reid, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

Due to a glitchy thing with my computer I am unable to copy and paste each story into my blog’s backend. Instead, I am required to re-type each story word for word.  While at first this extra step appeared to be an inconvenience, I now realize it slows me down, allows me to feel the words as if I’m writing them myself, and today, even steamed me up a bit.  Thank you for sharing both Leah’s Story and now, Reid’s, Brianna.  I’m sure many can relate to this journey of emotions you’ve shared.

Reid’s Story

I can’t claim to know just exactly how living with Autism affects my son, so I can’t tell his story, but I do know how it has affected me, so I’ve decided to share my story of autism.

Growing up, my family wasn’t like everyone elses’s.   Chief among those differences was the absence of a mother.  As a child, I dreamed endlessly of the day I’d have my own family and of being the mother I has always wished for.  My wishes and dreams can true in December of 2004.  My husband and I welcome our BIG, beautiful baby boy, Reid into this world.  He was perfect in every way.

For two years I continued to dream and plan about our life as a family.  I’d be a loving and attentive mother.  My husband would provide us with a stable and comfortable lifestyle.  Reid would grow up having play dates, sleepovers, and little league.  I’d be the classroom mom.  He’d have lots of friends.  He’d grow to be a high school athlete or musician, always excelling at whatever he did.  Our house would be the one where all the kids would gather.  I’d watch them all grow up together.  It was going to be perfect.  I  dreamed and planned and dreamed some more as we prepared for the birth of our second child.  At the end of March 2007, our beautiful baby girl, Leah, was born.  Less than 1 month later, I saw all of those dreams disappear in a moment.

reidblog5

Autism.  Reid has autism.  I can remember feeling numb as the words were spoken to us.  I was sitting there, a three week old baby in my arms, husband by my side, a bit in disbelief, but knowing deep down it was true.  I remember my always calm, even keeled, husband being so upset.  When we left, he ripped the paper parking permit off the car mirror in the parking lot.  I remember telling him, “It will be okay.”  I’ll never forget his response.  “Nothing will ever be the same.”  I don’t know if it was his uncharacteristically emotional reaction to the news, or if I would remember everything about that day either way… but I can remember that as if it happened yesterday.  It’s the days and weeks and months that would follow that are a blur.  My dreaming of our perfect life ended that day and was replaced with near constant deluge of questions, fears, and worries in my mind.  Autism dominates my thoughts.  I don’t mean that I think about it often, I mean, literally, it is rare for me to not have something ASD-related running through my mind.

The range of emotions I’ve experienced in the last seven years is vast to say the least.  Grief.  Anger.  Desperation.  Fear.  Hope.  Frustration.  Heartbreak.  Anxiety.  Anguish.  Wonder.  Disappointment.  Defeat.  Elation.  Sadness.  Astonishment.  Contentment.  Happiness.  Denial.  Pride.  Guilt.  Vulnerable.  Unstoppable.  But always constant was LOVE.  That never wavered.  We loved him more every day.  My love for this beautiful, complicated boy is so much more that I can put into words.

reidblog1reidblog2

My husband and I have been very proactive in Reid’s journey.  When he was placed on a two year wait-list for ABA, we flew from WI to TX to learn how to do the therapy ourselves.  We rallied at our state’s capitol to help push legislation mandating insurance coverage for our son’s treatment.  I’ve read countless articles and studies, learned strategies and concepts, attended more lectures that I can count and have always been active in treatment.  We work with the school district to make sure his needs are met there and ensure our therapy team can collaborate with the school as well.  Early on, we took the position that we were not willing to sit back and let things fall into place and hope it worked out.  We would lay the groundwork and make it happen.  This all became doubly important when our daughter, Leah, was also diagnosed with autism.  I’d like to claim some of Reid’s success, but in reality, what we’ve done for him is small potatoes compared to what he has done.

Reid has worked tirelessly for years to make sense of his world.  He has had countless hours of therapy.  Speech, OT, ABA, Social Skills, and on and on.  He has grown from a nonverbal, scared and confused boy who couldn’t cope with the world around him into a non-stop talker who charms and delights most everyone he meets.  He is so very smart, at times it is frightening.  He is ridiculously funny.  This year, he earned the lead role in his school’s winter program.  He still struggles eery day, but he never gives up.  He’ll sometimes grab his head and wish his autism away.  These moments are almost too much for me to bear, but when the day is done, my husband and I couldn’t be more proud of the work he has done, the progress he has made and of the person he is.

reid4blogreidblog3

I can’t recall exactly when I began dreaming of our future again, but somewhere along the line, I did.  And while they look a bit different that those early dreams, I think it is a good sign.  I’ve learned to appreciate and celebrate small victories.  Today’s dreams aren’t about a life I imagined  to replace my own sadness.  Today’s dreams are about my children, my real children and their happiness.  Living with autism in our home has taught me so much.  It has made me a better mother, a better person, ten times over.  And while it isn’t what I once dreamed, I love our life, autism and all.

kfam

Thanks to those of you who’ve already supported our April fundraiser to raise money for our annual Stories of Autism Picnic, which will be held on August 2nd.  If you haven’t given yet, but do appreciate the Stories of Autism project for its effort at awareness and acceptance of kids on the spectrum please, click here to do so.   This event brings the children and families that have participated in my Stories of Autism project together for pony rides, to jump high in a bouncy house and to enjoy an afternoon of food and fun.  Thank you for your support!

soapicnic08

Mrs. Mentink - April 13, 2014 - 10:02 pm

Beautiful story, Brianna. I am honored to know you and your family! You are strong and so full of love for your children. You are the best mom they could ever have. Take pride in that :) And thank you for sharing your story. Wonderful pictures as well! I can see his true personality shining through the images :)

Theresa Schricker - April 16, 2014 - 8:00 pm

I’m honored to claim Reid as my great nephew & I do mean great! I’ve been with him many times out in the community, when he has used his wit to win strangers’ hearts & make their day happier, because he chose to interact with them. We’re lucky to have Reid & Leah in our family, but they’re lucky to have the best parents in the whole world!!

t w i t t e r
s t o r i e s   o f   a u t i s m
s e s s i o n   i n f o