About a boy

Author: Nata Abashidze-Romanovskaya

Edition: Other
Topic: Health

I met Tedo when he was four, a kid with amazingly big black eyes, so deep you could drown in them. Tedo was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old and when I met him, he was living in his own world and rarely communicated with the people around him.  

When I started taking photographs, I was worried about how he would take it—if he would think it was fun or if the click of the camera would disturb him. But luckily Tedo really enjoyed the sound of the shutter and changed emotions and postures after every click. After dozens of shots he asked to stop. That's how our friendship started.

Tedo’s diagnosis totally changed the lives of his parents and other family members. It took time understanding how to treat a child with autism, as well as accept and adapt to Tedo’s condition. I think only a parent full of unconditional love and patience can raise an autistic child, especially in Georgia, where this diagnosis is still stigmatized and not even recognized by a huge part of society.

Still awareness about the autism spectrum has tremendously grown in Georgia. I remember when children with autism were locked up in their rooms, and their parents would never mention them, as it was a shame for a family having a "crazy" and "sick" kid. Now there are more resources available for the children and their families.

Being on the autism spectrum means Tedo is more sensitive to some issues, like loud noises and bright light.  Regardless of his diagnosis, he is still a child who deserves equal opportunities and the quality of life as everyone else.

Tedo is a very creative child: he paints, plays music, sings and has plenty of interests. He speaks several languages he learned on his own. As a photographer, I wanted to find a way to show others how he sees the world. So, when I went to visit Tedo and his family this summer, I brought a film camera for Tedo to see if he would enjoy taking photos.

The result is this essay, which shows two perspectives of Tedo’s life - one seen through his eyes, his imagination and his world, and another from my perspective as an observer.

Not far from the Blue House, where the family lives in the summer, there is a so-called Paradise Apples Alley, which Tedo likes a lot.
The family’s house is known by the locals as the Blue House - everyone knows where it is.
Amy, a tiny Bolognese, is also a part of the family. Bolognese dogs breed are known to be ASD friendly and hypoallergenic. Tedo and Amy are best friends and always have fun together.
Tedo and his father, Bacha, share a special relationship. Bacha even has a tattoo of a penguin that Tedo drew years ago.
Sometimes you look in his big brown eyes and wonder what he is thinking about, how the world looks through his eyes, how many things he can see and feel that we don’t.
Sensory processing problems are common in neurological and developmental disorders like autism. Children who are hypersensitive often react as though everything is too loud or too bright, which makes it difficult for them to be in noisy rooms. Sometimes, they also struggle with strong smells.
Tedo’s eyes are very sensitive to the sunlight, so he usually wears sunglasses when he is outdoors.
Bear hugs and getting super close to people are also symptoms of sensory processing issues.
Tedo’s favorite food is “pizza” - puff pastry khachapuri or a cheese slice wrapped in a hamburger bun, warmed up in a waffle maker. One of the few things he eats.
Tedo’s parents are the best example of unconditional love I have ever seen. Keti has fully dedicated her life to raising Tedo, taking him to different classes and therapies and fighting every day to make sure her son has the best quality life possible.

The photos story was prepared with support from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) South Caucasus Regional Office. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of FES.

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