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Photographer Index

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Keith Hopkins
Keith Hopkins Photography

Ava Jolie

A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Lord Byron

Ava is three years old and lives in New Jersey. She was diagnosed with autism when she was nineteen months old. At one year of age she was typically developing – she met every developmental milestone and had words like “duck,” “baby,” "Mama," “hi,” and "Daddy." By sixteen months of age, the words were gone. She no longer looked at us, responded to her name or played games like “peek-a-boo.” She started ritualistic behaviors like running back and forth and flapping her hands when she got excited. She stopped sleeping through the night. She retreated into her own world.

When we saw our daughter’s regression, we had no idea what to do. We had to throw everything we knew about parenting out the window. Ballet lessons and playdates were shelved – for now. We were very lucky to have Autism NJ as a resource, an organization that guided us to a developmental pediatrician, the NJ Department of Early Intervention and explained to us what Applied Behavioral Analysis was – the only proven effective treatment for individuals with autism.

At nineteen months, Ava began therapy – twenty-five hours a week until she was three years old. After her third birthday she began REED Academy, a private school in New Jersey for individuals with autism. Ava’s skills are starting to emerge. She knows her letters and numbers. She has a great sense of humor and loves to act silly and giggle. She is a whiz on the iPad and can sing almost any tune she hears. She adores nature – leaves, grass, flowers, trees and water. She is happiest running outside on a sunny day, picking up leaves and singing her favorite songs.

Ava has a great deal of love in her heart. She reads her stuffed Bunny a storybook and feeds him a leaf she found outside. She loves to hug and cuddle those she cares about. Ava embraces life happily – and that gives us hope.

Kim, mother of Ava
Midland Park, NJ