This spring I had the absolute pleasure of meeting my new buddy Lucas for a portrait session. I have met his Mother, Angela a few times – she is just the most lovely of ladies – and together we all had an absolutely fabulous time playing games, taking turns with the big camera and making movies on an iphone. (Still need one of those, I love the iphones and envy everyone who has one!)
Over the past year Angela has been working incredibly hard (as if she didn’t already have enough to do!) to raise funds to pay for an Autism Service Dog for Lucas. To be entirely honest when the idea of an Autism Service Dog was first introduced to me I didn’t really “get it”. I am familiar with service dogs for many other disabilities but because all of the people I have ever met who have Autism were completely able bodied and capable of doing tasks for themselves, I didn’t understand the point at first. After meeting Lucas it all clicked into place pretty quickly. It hadn’t occured to me just how difficult t can be in living with Autism, not just for the individual but for the whole family. Lucas did NOT want to come in to the studio for portraits. It was strange and unfamiliar and I was strange and unfamiliar. He just wanted to go home to watch movies and play video games where he felt safe, loved and understood. In the end I don’t think it was as much his Mother’s coaxing while standing in the rain or my smiles from the door that brought Lucas out of the car and into the studio as it was the temptation of my (super adorable) little puppy Felix. While Lucas might not have seen off the bat that WE would click, he knew right away that he loved dogs and he and Felix would have fun playing together. Felix accompanied us down to the studio and hung out with us for the whole sessionl. In the end not only did Felix have a new freind, I dfid too – I was so was delighted to find Lucas didn’t want to leave if I hadn’t had other clients coming I would have happily let him stay and play all day!
I couldn’t help but think that if Lucas had a best friend who he could trust and would never let him down, who was with him day and night, it might be a little bit easier for him to approach new and potentially intimidating situations. This is just one of the few places when a service dog could help and I am sure that if I were to spend more time with this amazingly bright and sweet boy I would see a lot more!
Currently the cost of raising and training an Autism Service Dog is in the neighbourhood of $20, 000. This is not covered by Ontario Health Care and is something that loving parents need to come up with on their own. In the past year Angela has done a variety of creative fundraisers to raise the better part of this fee, but there is still a way to go. To help her get over the finish line I will be offerning Summer Mini Sessions for the first time. Gift certificates for these sessions can be purchased from July 6 – 9th and can then be redeemed any time in July or August for a 30 minute session. The mini sessions are $40 and include the in studio session as well as access to specially prices packages starting at $50. The best part is that 100% of the money collected from the session fees ($40 per session) will go directly to helping pay for Lucas’ service dog. In the event that more money is raised than needed, we will donate the excess to the registered charity, Autism Dog Services in Ontario to help train more dogs and give more families a chance to have this amazing gift.
I am already looking forward to seeing Lucas again later in the summer, his new buddy in tow for an awesome “Best Buddies” session!!!
I can’t even tell you how excited little Felix was to be allowed to come and participate in the session!
I am really not usually a fan of getting on the other side of the camera, but Lucas asked nicely sooooo….
To get your certificate for a Summer Mini Session contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 647 272 5450. As always spaces are limited and will go quickly, so please call early to avoid disappointment.