Posted in Autism, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #13~Take 1, Take 2, Take 3…. oh just keep snapping!

Over the years, the process of getting a clean shot of Nick in a photo has never been easy.  Three things have to happen.  First you have to get him to look into the camera with eyes fixed and not flat.  Then, catch his smile.  Oh and while along try to keep his hands from flapping around his ears.  Nick when excited about something can do some serious flapping…..

Yes I can…

It’s my brother’s birthday I’m gonna flap if I want to… Happy Birthday Hank!

Most of the family photos appear angelic as we have our arms coiled around him lovingly.  Actually this is a desperate attempt to control the hands flapping!

Unnerstall Family photo….

I love getting the Christmas cards from our fellow dual diagnosis friends and their families.  It is always a mirror image of those wrapped arms that appear to be peaceful and in control. Oh wait there are more……….

Mom and I trying to get Nick to look at the camera for a Rodger’s Family photo…

Oh what a sweet picture of Jim and Theresa with the grandchildren… note the gentle holding of Nick’s hands while calmly looking into the camera….

Mount Diablo in Nothern California… Their faces say it all…

“I know that all my cousins are looking straight ahead at the camera, but  I am look away Nick!”….

Poor Hank, I can’t tell you how many pictures he and  our family have endured  patiently sitting and smiling while waiting for Nick to maybe look into the camera and smile.

Nick says…”Who needs Santa, this hand flap is way better.”   Gotta love Santa’s gaze at him.  

How many school pictures of Nick have been re takes?  Uh ya… all of them!

We call this one “Off-Centered Nick” but it’s a rather cute shot (2nd grade)

Which brings us to senior portrait time, oh my.  A lot has changed since my high school days back in La Porte, Texas.

Back then, they only offered two shots. (That sounded like an old person speaking didn’t it?)  I remember being bummed that we didn’t get to do the pose like Mom had.  Even the graduating classes two years before me did.  You know the one with the fluffy white feathers that hit just above the bare shoulders.  I couldn’t wait to see myself  like this….

Mom rocking the feathers…

My ’79 graduating class got stuck with the casual street clothes look,  fake green ficus creeping over the background  and a lame tree trunk covered with lichen. Not quite the same is it?

The second shot was the with the conservative gray background and traditional cap and gown.  These days it is a complete photo shoot with multiple backgrounds and wardrobe changes including props such as a band instrument or sporting equipment. Which leads this story to the present tense and Nick who had his senior portraits taken last Friday.

Several things need to happen to pull such a feat off.  First besides the top three items that I listed above is timing.   I made sure to block an hour shoot rather than 30 minutes to allow for Nick to transition and in case he needed a break.  With Nick’s hair that grows like Samson……  timing is everything. Oh and the stars need to be in alignment.

This would be too late…..

So, we arrive at the studio complete with my bag full of things to try to get Nick to look at the camera. And the task strip that had icon pictures of camera, smile, wait, smile, all done and then of course the big reward at the end…. ta da!

Double thumbs up.. yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I told the photographer that he had a limited number of money shots.  Just keep snapping… and he did. Between the photographer, Hank and I engaging in countless sound effects, silly toys like whoopie coushins, fake burps sounds, slap stick humor and yes…..two wardrobe changes and five different backdrops we might just have a few keepers.   We’ll see how the film rolls in a few weeks.  Funny how such a simple thing like having your photo taken can be such a process and wear on you and your whole family.  These things are never easy with Nick.  But somehow in the midst, there usually is a nugget you take with you.  It’s a tiny bit that stays in your memory bank that brings a snicker and smile…..

That’s what is in my noggin this week. Until next week may you find those little nuggets of happiness and say cheese…..  and don’t forget to flap your hands!



Teresa is the Author of "A New Course: A Mother's Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism" and the mother of two boys. Her youngest son, Nick is 29 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). Teresa's passion is helping others understand and navigate co-occurring Down syndrome and autism. She is a DS-ASD consultant, advocate, speaker, and author. Follow Nick's world on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism and on Twitter @tjunnerstall. For more information and media links, visit

3 thoughts on “Blog #13~Take 1, Take 2, Take 3…. oh just keep snapping!

  1. I love taking pictures, candids, and I can relate to your challenge with Nick. Most of my subjects blink their eyes instead of flap their hands. As you say, every now and again you get the nugget. THANKS FOR SHARING!

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