• 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!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!

morton, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

Drew, whose mother informed me prior to our session that he likes to be called Morton, was a delight to meet.  He is jam packed full of personality, spunk, imagination and on  top of all that, he is absolutely endearing to the core.  This Story of Autism is written in his own words which makes it especially interesting to me.

Drew (Morton)’s Story

Hello, my name is Morton Jr.  I am autistic and I have ADHD, too, thus being the best on both spectrums.  I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 4.  I am 9 years old and I love to eat sweet and savory things like fries with ketchup, blackberries and churros cereal.  I also like things with broccoli and carrots, which most kids don’t like.

I am very intelligent. I taught myself to read when I was 3, and when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I found out my IQ is 159.  Right now I read at high school level, but I don’t like to work that hard.  Being in 4th grade is pretty cool.

I am in the 4th grade Time4Learning.  Why Time4Learning?  Because I’m homeschooled; that’s how cool I am.  I like to watch videos and play video games with my brother, Larry, who is 8 and in the 2nd grade.  He likes raw cheese, which I don’t really like.  Weird.  And even chocolate, which I don’t like either.  Well, there are some cheesy and chocolate things I do like but they are mixed with other things like Peppermint Patties, Tootsie Pops, pepperoni pizza and Cheetos.

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I see the world as a great place to live in but also a dangerous place.  Some people are mean and some people are in the middle.  Some people might act nice but do horrible things behind my back.  If you are bullied,  just go ask a teacher for help.  But if they say solutions to your problems that never work, just tell them that the bully just won’t give up.  I have been bullied.  When I was bullied in one of my first public schools, I was bullied a lot.  One of the two student bullies pushed me down on the playground, which had solid gravel instead of woodchips.  My knee was bleeding and it left a scar on my right knee for all eternity.  Thank goodness the nurse helped me out.  If you have been bullied, my brother’s solution is to beat the heck out of them.  That solution might not be effective because the bully might fight back but if you fight back, that’s okay.

If your teacher doesn’t understand you, go ask your parents if they understand you.  If they’re good parents, they may tell your teacher how your brain works, and that will help.  A lot of public and private schools didn’t work out well for me, so I’m homeschooled.  We started with K12 virtual academy.  Sometimes it could be super fun, sometimes it could be super boring and sometimes it could be horrible.  My least favorite subject is Math. I now do Time4Learning online.  Homeschooling fits me best.

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Overall, my life is great but it can also be tough.  My brother, who has ADHD can be annoying sometimes and sometimes I accidentally get into things I shouldn’t.  But that doesn’t hurt my pride in who I am, why I’m living, and how.  My brother and I are the best bros ever!

To all those autistic kiddos out there, and even those that have ADHD, if someone makes fun of you, don’t let them.  If you have a disability, you might have an enhanced ability that hasn’t been disabled.  You could use that enhanced ability to make others learn the errors of their ways and show them how great you are, because I’m autistic and I have ADHD and I’m a star.

Thank you to Carrie for including me in this project.  If you get anything out of my story, I hope it’s positive. Thank you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m waiting for my bread that I made myself to be done baking.

P.S. I’m an artist. I have written many poems and I even know how to do Haikus.  The first is one sentence with 5 syllables, the second has 7 syllables and the last sentence has 5 syllables again.  I do my art on MS Paint and I like to edit Sprites from 16 bit to 8 bit and I’m going to start on 32 bit sometime.

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What’s not to love, eh?  Can’t fault a kiddo who speaks his mind! Thank you, Morton, for sharing your thoughts!  Just a reminder that we are raising funds for the annual Stories of Autism Picnic where each of the families I’ve photographed will meet each other for a fun afternoon of socializing.  Please donate here to support our event.

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Sarah Winke Theiler - April 9, 2014 - 3:29 pm

Well Morton is all sorts of awesome! I loved reading this story! The last black and white picture is gorgeous, Carrie.

Sara 'Klaas' Latka - April 9, 2014 - 5:31 pm

Awesome job Morton! I loved reading this, you are very wise :)

Michelle Harper - April 9, 2014 - 7:43 pm

Morton (Drew), I am so proud of you, and I’m so grateful to be your Mom. You inspire me every day, and I love you with all my heart. The world is a much better, much more interesting place to be with you in it. Speak loud and proud, my son. :)

Michelle Harper - April 9, 2014 - 8:12 pm

Thank you so much Carrie for your kind words and great pictures!!

Heather Sohn - April 9, 2014 - 9:41 pm

Morton, thank you for sharing your story with us. You are helping me understand how my son (who also has autism and ADHD) thinks. I think you are an amazing kid, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for you. Keep dreaming big dreams, buddy!

Brianna Haas Kuelz - April 9, 2014 - 10:15 pm

Morton, you are fantastic! I loved your story!

Wendy Patch Kempf - April 9, 2014 - 10:16 pm

I enjoyed your story Morton! Nice job.

kaden, stories of autism | carrie anciaux photography

There is no doubt each and every Stories of Autism photography session I do is special.  As a matter of fact, there hasn’t been one single time where my ride home hasn’t included soulful reflection on my part.  This session was especially moving for many reasons.  Amy, Kaden’s mother, is clearly a strong woman and a dedicated momma.  Kaden is sugary sweet and loving and absolutely the center of her world.  Together, they make quite a team.

“There is no love, like a mother’s love.” -Ambika Subash

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Kaden James’ Story
My darling sweetie-pie Kaden was born on February 5th, 2006. His start into this world was already a rough one. Doctors think he either had a stroke in utero, or a stroke during the birthing process. He was born not breathing. Then when they finally got him breathing, he wasn’t moving his whole left side of his body. He finally started moving his whole body by later that night. It was a scare to us, but we tried to put it all behind us.  Fast forward to 9 months later and he had a seizure that lasted OVER 3 hours long.  After getting him stabilized, they found he had a hole  the size of a quarter in his right hippocampus. Over the next year we dealt with seizures and changing of his medications. Although finally, after yet another seizure that he had around 2 years old,it seemed he had lost his ability to speak and really started to regress. We finally got another diagnoses  of PDD-NOS, which quickly switched permanently to Autism. It sinks your heart into your stomach to hear there is again something wrong with your child. Didn’t he have enough to go through already? And now THIS?? After slowly coming out of denial, we really looked back over his earlier years and noticed signs of Autism even as a baby! Things we noticed as ‘different’ but not having a label for at that time. For example, we thought he was deaf because he wouldn’t look when we said his name! Even after banging on pots and pans as loud as we could, there was no response.  There were a lot of things he was also behind on as well like specific milestones he didn’t reach on time. But if he met a different one on time, we ‘forgot’ about the ones he didn’t meet, being too happy about the ones he did.

kaden01 copyk1blogAnyway, let’s fast forward to the HAPPY part of Kaden’s story! Kaden has taught me SO MUCH about life, love, patience, happiness, acceptance and forgiveness. Sure, we we still have really tough days, and always will.  But it has helped me become a much stronger independent woman!  Kaden just turned 8 years old February 5th 2014, and I GUARANTEE you that he has brought SO MUCH laughter into my life! By the quirky little things he does, or just his plain sense of humor. His laughter is so contagious that nobody can hear it and not laugh right along with him!  I love how he will sometimes look deep into my eyes and just stare, like he sees my soul! Not to mention his hugs, which are the kind of hugs you would read about in storybooks! They are so simple, but since Kaden is non-verbal, his hugs speak thousands of words to me! He is so intelligent (sometimes it gets him into trouble!!) that I am amazed with all he has improved on throughout these past 5 1/2 years since he started his in home therapy. Even how much he has improved on his own with his willingness to learn and discover things all by himself! At the end, as much work as he is, I wouldn’t trade him for the world! I was meant to have him as my son, and I was meant to be his mommy! I believe in fate!

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After reading through this whole story I wrote I have realized how much of a bright star Kaden is in my life, and everyone else’s life he touches! He has been the best teacher I have ever had. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for him, he literally has saved
my life in more ways than one!! I love you Kaden James! AKA Mr. Stinker

Eskimo Kisses!
Mommy
Amy Stuart
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

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Our April campaign to raise money for our annual Stories of Autism picnic continues.  Thank you for your support and donation by visiting here.

Sarah Winke Theiler - April 7, 2014 - 2:38 pm

What a sweet boy. Love reading these stories!

Mindy Smith - April 7, 2014 - 3:19 pm

Gorgeous photos of a handsome boy! The black and whites at the piano are my very favorite!

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