The idea of a family photo shoot can be a stressful but a mom from Georgia named Samantha Bishop found an ingenious way around the hassle when she let her eight-year-old autistic son Levi dress up as whatever he wanted for the yearly photo shoot. The results didn’t disappoint, as Levi’s photo shoot in a full-fledged T-Rex outfit is likely the most heartwarming thing you might see this month.
According to Bishop, Levi has always been pretty self-conscious about being in front of the camera. She usually finds that the longer he has to stand around a pose is the more uncomfortable and agitated that he gets. This usually results in a lot of time spent getting the pictures right.
“A lot of things can be difficult for Levi. Taking a picture usually involves a lot of bribery and a lot of dancing,” Bishop told the BBC.
But what was even harder for her than spending a long time getting Levi to take a picture was the fact that it never felt genuine. The real Levi is a happy kid who gets excited and enjoys things like most children do, and she wanted to show that in the pictures.
I've received a lot of grief from various people for this photoshoot. Many people said stating that he has autism was…
“I felt like we were forcing something on him that was uncomfortable for him. He didn’t enjoy them and they weren’t real smiles from him – they were forced and fake. Out of 5,000 photos, I may have had 10 great ones,” Bishop explained, before breaking down how “he was laughing hysterically” when she eventually gave him the costume idea.
Still, after posting the photos Bishop revives some backlash for making her son’s autism the almost centerpiece of the shoot. While they saw it a something to not mention, Bishop sees it as an opportunity to let Levi embrace himself, and who he is is autistic.
“So while many people don’t see why his autism or other special needs have anything to do with this shoot, I think many will. This is him in his element. There are no forced smiles, no bribery, no pretend happiness,” she wrote on their Facebook page Life with Levi. “And so I choose to celebrate his ‘labels’ and teach him to use them to his advantage rather than see them as an obstacle.”