How family portraits on our walls have helped my Autistic son’s development



I've always been a big advocate of displaying photographs of your family around the home and it has always been such an honour to help the families I work with, in doing just this.

There has been a lot of research into this over the years and it has been proven that doing so can help with our children's confidence and self-esteem.  In particular, a 1975 study by Tulane University found that after giving a group fourth graders at a Tennessee school, a Polaroid camera to take various photos of themselves and then scrapbooking those photos once a week over five weeks, there was a significant percentage increase of positive self-esteem related behaviours amongst the children.

Since having our first child in 2011, this was something that we have just always naturally done.  From small, framed 6x4 snapshots on the mantle to putting together small albums of our instagram photos, it has been so lovely to document our adventures together, whilst giving us talking points with the kids, each time we walk by them.


When our son was born in 2013, again, this was something we continued to do and as we started to redecorate the rooms in our family home (redecorating over handprints and spills that the little ones bring!) we chose some of our very favourite photos as larger wall art around the home.

Fast forward to 2017 when our son was diagnosed with ASD.  His referral had originally been triggered by the Health Visitor some months earlier, as his speech was late in developing.  And as time went by, it was more clear that there was some developmental delay.  When we compared him to other kids his age, we could see that where other children had more vocabulary and could form simple sentences in conversation, he wasn't quite at that stage, yet.

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.
— The National Autistic Society, UK

As we continued to display photographs around the home, we noticed that he was becoming more self aware and was pointing to his face in photos with a short 'Look!' and a smile.  Over time he could also pick out his sister and started to engage with her about the photos, even if it was just with a giggle.  As parents, it was lovely to be able to start to engage in short conversations with him about the photos, asking him who it was in the photos or where we were in the photos. 

There have of course been other therapies and stimuli which have also no doubt helped him grow along the way, but at home, its been a simple way for us to us to teach him about the world, in small steps, whilst allowing him to teach us more about the world he sees, which is such a privilege.


P.S -If you have have a child with Autism and would LOVE some family portraits with someone who can give you all the time you need, will help plan your session around what works best for your family and just 'get's it', I'd love to hear from you.  You can find more info here.