The Ryan Family | Arizona | Agnes & Art Photo

Madi, age 6, "slow to warm up, but when she connects, she is very very excitable and bubbly and eager to share. Easily overwhelmed. Passionate about many things and very creative; loves to play dress up and make believe and will involve other people (especially adults) in her elaborate games. Clever; best dealt with directly/honestly. Anxious. Loving toward her brother but no real concept of boundaries (can love him a little bit too much sometimes!). Not fond of being touched."

Imagery by the talented Agnes & Art Photo and words by Madi's mom, Anna:

I was a single mom for the first two and a half years of my daughter's life, and was isolated from most other people and kids, which frankly worked just fine for us. I'm an introvert, and though she didn't start talking regularly until 3, she signed and was very independent; at a year old, she would take off her diaper and bring me a new one if it was wet, or go to the fridge and get out a snack if she was hungry! She always had a mind of her own. Even though she didn't really play with toys or other kids, and had no interest in playgrounds whatsoever, she loved being in a carrier up on my back and going everywhere with me--work, play, errands, hiking, you name it, she would watch with keen interest from my back. 
When she was two, I rekindled a friendship with the very first boy I'd ever gone on a date with, finding out with surprise that he was now in the Navy and when he wasn't at sea or on base, he stayed with his family, who had moved from where we met a decade before (Oregon) to about 20 minutes from where I now lived (in Arizona). We started dating, and he and Madi hit it off right away (even without words!) It probably helped that his uniform was blue and that, as anyone who has ever asked her what her favorite color knows, "BLUE IS MY VERY FAVORITE COLOR!" It probably didn't hurt that he's also on the spectrum, and understood the "whys" of a lot of her quirks and accepted them in stride. Not long after he was discharged, we were expecting an addition to the family--a baby brother who was born a week before Madi's 4th birthday. 
Not long after that, we bought a house and moved from my dad's house (which had been Madi's home base) to our very own home. In true Madi fashion, she requested that her room be painted "15 shades of blue!" (It was.) 
Preschool had been such a challenge (involving a lot of hiding under tables and mutism) that we decided to homeschool kindergarten, and now we spend our days learning in her blue room and our backyard garden, and playing with her toddler brother--and, of course, baking in the kitchen, a favorite activity! She makes amazing, beautiful cakes and helps come up with creative dinners from the garden. She practices writing by leaving notes for the fairies. We read books together and play games, and send a LOT of time at the library with our favorite librarian/auntie. But since we are now expecting no. 3 (in October), she's feeling a bit uncertain where she fits in the family, which makes me a bit sad. All I want for my amazing, diverse family is to feel safe and loved!

Spectrum Inspired.