30 Apr Unbridled Creativity
by Denise Caudill Irons
I am a control freak.
Everyone who knows me is quite aware of my problem. I no longer go through the trouble of trying to hide it. My self-diagnosed condition worsened after learning of my daughter’s diagnosis. Part of the issue stems from the regret and guilt that I feel for not pursuing answers to her delays and seeking treatment at an earlier age. Some of the problem is the fear that if I drop the ball, she will not receive the best care possible nor achieve her potential. The rest of it comes from the foolish belief that if I don’t do it, whatever “it” is, it won’t be done right. As a result, I over-think, over-plan, and over-analyze practically every aspect of my daughter’s existence.
However, something in my daughter’s world managed to go undetected. As much as I need to be creative in my own life, I never thought about incorporating the concept into my daughter’s routine. In the early years, I attempted a few art activities, but my patience wore thin. She didn’t take to painting, sidewalk chalk, or clay. Play-doh was one of her favorites, but she used it for sensory reasons rather than creative ones. Most craft projects require fine motor skills that are challenging for her, and they left her frustrated and refusing to continue.
This year’s Silver Cup Celebration focused on New Hope of Indiana’s core value, Creativity. With so much discussion about being creative, I discovered that my daughter has had a creative outlet for years. Photography is what she loves. Taking pictures is as much a part of who she is as riding a horse or carrying a book with her. My oversight gave her the ability to pursue her passion unencumbered by my expectations. There were no conditions, goals, or restrictions; basically, I inadvertently kept my nose out of it. She has an iPad that provides a large view of her shot, and it is easy for her to snap the photo. At the time of this writing, her iPad has 6,199 photos, 411 videos and 399 selfies. Granted, I have taken a lot of her too, but these are her photos. Not only does she enjoy taking the pictures, but also spends time perusing them.
Photography has allowed her to express herself, and viewing her work gives me an understanding of her perspective. Although she is able to communicate verbally, her speech is limited to short phrases. Commenting on abstract concepts is challenging for her. She finds it difficult to explain why she deems something important, beautiful, or interesting. Although I can never know for sure, her photography gives me insight into these abstract ideas.
My daughter’s favorite models are the horses at our barn and her furry sister, Addy. Although Addy does not usually comply, my daughter makes an ardent attempt to command various poses for the dog. Watching a spontaneous photo shoot is quite entertaining.
Some of her photographs are extraordinary. My daughter enjoys using the filters on the camera for many of her photos. I love the mirror image she took of Addy; so much that I enlarged and framed it. Addy’s portrait is also framed and displayed. I am in awe of how she is able to capture those moments in time beautifully.
When she takes pictures, my daughter is present and in the moment. She is unabashedly confident, and she is unfazed with unsuccessful attempts. I know there are no accidents, and I am grateful that structuring her photography never occurred to me. Had I attempted to intervene and set perimeters for her, I would have completely squelched her freedom for creative exploration and expression. As for me, I would have missed out on the opportunity to have new and genuine insight into her thoughts and feelings. Perusing her photos gives me solace when I am overwhelmed and struggle with thoughts of her future. They are a constant reminder of how far she has come and hope for how far she will go.