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Photographer Index

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Heather Culley
Heather Culley Photo Design


My son Dylan, 9 ½ years old, was diagnosed with autism in April 2005, at 15 months old. My whole world was shattered before my eyes. It would be many years before I was alright again.

I knew nothing of autism at that time. I completely submerged myself in research. It was then that the feelings of sadness, panic, and being overwhelmed consumed me. You hear the saying “no one knows your child better than you” and guilt started setting in because I didn't. I want other families to know that you aren't alone if you don't feel like you know your child either. For us, it's a process, and everyday Dylan teaches and shows us more.

In 2008, Sydney was born. I wanted Dylan to have family to be with him always. At first, Dylan wanted nothing to do with his little sister. She also started showing characteristics like her brother. Again, I felt like my world was crumbling and fear was now at the forefront, but this time I was not overwhelmed.

Our story is not one of sadness, but rather, what dedication, hard work, and diligence can do. Now, after years of therapy and trial and error, I have hope and happiness of un-measurable amounts. Dylan has been considered non-verbal until six months ago. Sydney only has small delays in social interaction.

The best part of it all is the relationship between brother and sister. Although he would rather sit and be in his own world, Sydney doesn't let Dylan do that. She drags him around with her, making him laugh and play. How I have waited so long to see him love and rely on another person.

I am so incredibly proud of my kids. I have to pinch myself to believe all Dylan and Sydney have overcome together. That question many of us moms ask ourselves, “what have I done to deserve this?” is now replaced with “how did I get so lucky?”

Jennifer, mother of Dylan
Everett, WA