Autism and Photography

To document the often bizarre and incomprehensible world of his son, photographer Timothy Archibald has been photographing his autistic son Elijah from age 5. It started with taking photos of the repetitive behaviors or rituals that Elijah exhibited. Then it turned into something more:

“When Archibald showed him a photo of one of his behaviors, Elijah suggested doing it in another way or another place. Both father and son were very interested in the process through which they could get a good photo. ‘We had this mutual sense of discovery,’ Archibald says.”

Elijah has in time become a more active participant, helping to brainstorm and set up the photoshoots. Mr. Archibald named the project Echolilia. These photograph sessions sound transformative for them, because through them

“…father and son create their own visual language, thanks to which they can communicate with each other even when there are no words they both can understand. In fact, Elijah receives positive attention for his rituals, can share something with his dad, and has even started to take his own photos.”

Autism Photos Timothy Archibald

Timothy Archibald.

Autism Photo2 Timothy Archibald

Timothy Archibald.

More Echolilia photos on Mr. Archibald’s website. Reporting via SNAP and Lomography.

Because communication matters. Because making a connection with other people matters.

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Most Children’s Books Are Still about White Boys?

In her blog post published in Huffington Post, writer Soraya Chemaly cites a 2011 Florida State University (FSU) study that found 100 years of gender bias in children’s books. The FSU team analyzed nearly 6,000 books published from 1900 to 2000 – which makes it the most comprehensive study of 20th century children’s books ever undertaken in the U.S. – and found clear bias towards men and boys as lead characters. The post gives some core findings from the study:

“A girl’s imagination and literary life would be a stark and barren place if she didn’t learn early on to read books about boys, put herself in boys’ shoes and enjoy them. As with other aspects of socially sanctioned behavior, children’s ability to cross-gender empathize is a one-way street — girls have to do it and boys learn not to. People are married to enduring ideas about ‘otherness’ when it comes to masculinity and a big part of being a ‘real boy’ is disdaining stories, books, movies, and games … about girls.”

“Researcher Isabelle Cherney found that half of boys ages 5-13 picked ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ toys equally… unless they were being watched. They were especially concerned about what their fathers would think of them if they saw them. Over time, boys’ interests in toys and media become more rigidly masculinized, whereas girls’ stay relatively open-ended and flexible. Think of the implications of storytelling on that pattern and what it means for social skills development, adaptability, work-life issues and more.”

Ms. Chemaly argues that media that distorts reality in this way hurts everyone. She says:

“Boys aren’t responsible for the perpetuation of media injustices or their effects. The problem is not boys, but cultural habits that disproportionately favor them.”

“As children grow up, girls’ media marginalization becomes more acute and racialized. We seem incapable and unwilling to deeply consider the societal effects of dysfunctional, stereotype-plagued media. Without fail, when I talk or write about this and focus on girls, the first response I get is ‘What about the boy crisis?’ It’s remarkable. So, what about the boys who are over-represented in media as valued and worthy, albeit, too often, hyper-masculinized? I think that while benefits can accrue to them as a class, by imparting a sense of confidence and entitlement, the effects on individual boys can be awful.”

Ms. Chemaly’s final point is golden:

“We are a storytelling species, and symbolic representation and visibility are crucially important to the way we structure society. Exposing children to diversity in media encourages them to learn about people who are “different” and to understand why that difference isn’t the foundation of hierarchy, but community.”

Because a person’s genitals do not determine their behavior, their upbringing does. Because we’re not just girls and boys or women and men, we’re people.

An Epic LEGO Rendering of an Epic Poem

Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey was to retold by VirtuaLUG – in LEGO blocks. Their incredible 300-square-foot layout features numerous scenes from Odysseus’ 10-year adventure. The scenes include but are by no means limited to:

Circe’s Island:

Circe’s Island by Millie McKenzie

Circe’s Island. By Millie McKenzie; image via The Brothers Brick.

Hades:

Hall of Hades by Lee Jones, Leo J. and Adam Reed Tucker

Hall of Hades. By Lee Jones, Leo J. and Adam Reed Tucker; image via The Brothers Brick.

Mount Olympus:

Mount Olympus by Bart Larrow

Mount Olympus. By Bart Larrow; image via The Brothers Brick.

Found via The Brothers Brick.

Kudos! This is such a creative, epic version of the poem beautifully and imaginatively rendered. Because “toy” is such a restrictive descriptor for LEGOs. Because old stuff need not be stuffy.

What You See Is What You Expect

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org, has launched a campaign to change images of girls and women used in advertising. LeanIn.org teamed up with Getty Images to create a photo library called the Lean In Collection. According to Ms. Sandberg, the collection portrays working moms, military women and bosses, with

“real bodies, real families, raising real children … and also includes men in the home who have chosen to be primary caregivers.”

Pamela Grossman, director of Visual Trends at Getty, says: “Imagery is so powerful. It’s what changes your expectation of yourself and the world around us.” But that’s not all. According to ABC News,

“[h]aving more equal and more progressive images of females is […] also about economics,” says Grossman. “Women hold so much buying power – certainly in the US and growing worldwide – so it’s foolish not to figure out how to speak to women in a relevant and respectful way.”

Kudos, Getty Images and LeanIn.org. Women are not just someone’s daughters, sisters or wives. Women are someone, too.

 

Author: Representation Matters

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives voice to Nigerian and American life, telling stories about moral responsibility, the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race, and love and hatred. I was struck by two quotes attributed to her:

Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieChimamanda Ngozi AdichieChimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes from nneckbone on Tumblr.

Because stereotyping in media hurts real people. Because representation matters.

When Miniatures and Real Sized-Backgrounds Meet

For over 25 years, Michael Paul Smith has been creating scale models of vintage cars and staging photos of them. His photos use the real world, ginormous as it is compared to the models, as a background. Mr. Smith brings his imaginary town, Elgin Park, to life with clever optical illusions and meticulous sets.

The DART Moving co. / Michael Paul Smith

Michael Paul Smith.

The DART Moving co. Setup / Michael Paul Smith

Michael Paul Smith.

Via Daily Mail Online.

Because “model hobbyist” should not be a pejorative.