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2014 Photographer Index

2014_hagerman_lilly 2013_hall_elliot

Shawn Haley
Shawn Haley Photography

Emjae and Quentin

The picture shows two typical little boys, right? Well, for the most part they are typical 4-year-olds —in every sense of the word. Rambunctious, curious, loving, and adventurous. However, the difference lays in the way we, as their parents, have come to approach all things in life, especially as it pertains to their world. This shift is due to a confirmed Autism Spectrum diagnosis and a Global Developmental Delay diagnosis in 2011. That day changed our family in astounding ways, but we wouldn’t fully realize how, until months and even years later.

The universal symbol for Autism is a puzzle piece, which is interpreted in many different ways. We see this symbol in our own way — as a representation for the road we are on. The road we take to help our boys put together each piece of their lives, through therapy, diet, biomed, chiropractic/acupuncture care, school, exploration, and most of all, lots of love. In their own time with our help, our team of professionals and guidance, (and with one piece, one day, one milestone, many dreams, and daily emerging strides), they will reach the point that all the pieces come together and create a complete picture in their lives. Standing there will be these beautiful pictures of who they are, entirely. Autism will not be what defines them. Their likes and dislikes, unique personalities, hobbies, imaginations, passions, and spirits will define them.

Sometimes, we feel as if our boys have had it right this whole time (humor us for a minute), and we are the ones who are searching for the missing puzzle pieces. Our sons have taught us more about the world around us, the changes in ourselves that are directly due to them, and the way in which they have helped us to see and understand that life is so much bigger than ourselves and what is happening just in front of our noses. The world around us is not as cut and dry as we once saw it. Dreams we had when they were born are still ever present — we’ve just had to learn to parent a different way. Their talents, abilities and minds are capable of things that amaze us daily. Their joy, laughter, humor, smiles, and snuggles overcome any differences or daily challenges and hardships. They show us daily that life's greatest treasures and simplicities are the little things that we once took for granted. Life and interactions with others is nothing like how we saw it before. These little things — the things that most parents wouldn’t bat an eye at — we celebrate, we cry over, and we rejoice. We have come to realize that through loving them, getting to know them, and raising them, our missing puzzle pieces were these two little boys that have shown us life through these new glasses. What a truly incredible, raw, journey it has been and continues to be.

We have a feeling — and a hope — that we are going to be helping one another put together each other's “missing” puzzle pieces our entire lives. Every single evening, as we lay them down to sleep, we can’t help but look at them in amazement. Our LITTLE men, our BIGGEST blessings. The love in our hearts for our “Bubbies” cannot be put into something so simple as words. That said, this photo speaks volumes and provides a glimpse at two amazing human beings on an incredible journey.

Mommy Ann and Daddy Will of twin brothers Emjae and Quentin
Kansas City, MO