The Menconi Family | Little Loo Photography | Las Vegas, NV

This Spectrum Inspired session was documented by Lisa Weingardt of Little Loo Photography.  Thank you for being apart of our community of photographers Lisa, your work is so appreciated. 

Dominic, age 3, "he is a delight. He loves to smile and laugh. He loves to play tickle games and he likes lots of hugging and cuddling and kisses. He can be very interested in other adults. He doesn't talk very much but he loves to sing." 

Words by Dominic's mother, 

I am an avid reader and I'd often read things over the years concerning autism and the autism spectrum. So I knew various symptoms to look for in children well before becoming a mother myself. This is simply because I like to research interesting subjects. After Dominic was born I was determined to breastfeed. We had quite a bit of trouble in the beginning because he had a lip tie and I was in a lot of pain. He also nursed every hour on the hour for 45 minutes. One thing I noticed in all those nursing sessions was that he would never look me in the face. I would talk to him and try to get him to look me in the eyes but he would avoid my gaze. I remember thinking 'Hmm,that's a sign of autism.' But, like now, he would smile often and make lots of cooing sounds when I spoke to him. Eventually he began to look at me. So I brushed his lack of eye contact aside. 

Dominic was never interested in playing with toys and we thought it was just a personality quirk. He really enjoyed being carried around and looking at other adults. He smiled and was friendly so we thought he must like people not objects. He also did not respond to his name when he was called. Even now he only looks up about 50% of the time when we call his name. Again I explained this away because many children become preoccupied with things and do not respond to their parents when called. I met another mom who's son was diagnosed with ASD about a year before Dominic's diagnosis. Her son loved to line up his toys and would get extremely agitated if anyone moved them. I remember noticing that Dominic lines up his cars but he didn't care if we moved them. So it must not be related. I became very good at explaining behaviors away!

At his second birthday Dominic had not yet said 50 words or used two word phrases. I knew this was a problem but again we had an explanation. Dominic's father also spoke late as a child. He also had years of speech therapy in school. We believed that Dominic was just like his daddy and would probably need speech therapy. We contacted Early Intervention and later a private speech therapist. He has had a lot of progress, however these specialists suggested we have him screened for autism.

We have now had this diagnosis for about one week. We are so new to this! We're trying to find all the resources we can in our town. We've reached out to several local organizations in hopes of just meeting other parents to talk to. We feel nervous, hopeful and at times a little bit sad. Both my husband and myself know that autism is just a normal part of human diversity. We want to find the best therapies for his needs. Most of all, we're committed to teaching Dominic that neurodiversity is special and important.

Spectrum Inspired.