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Complex Learners & Family Photos

Photo Bomb

There is a lot of pressure during this time of year to produce perfect family photos. Whether for holiday cards you hope to get out before the snow melts, at family gatherings or school events, or just trying to record the fun moments of the season – there are a lot of cameras clicking.

Not everyone loves to be photographed (myself included!), but for children with complex learning differences, this can be a major issue. Complex Learners have social and sensory interferences that make picture taking awkward, uncomfortable, and even scary. Standing close to people in a group might create anxiety. Having to pose or transition from what was happening feels unexpected and not part of the routine. Smiling may not come easily or may look stiff. And just feeling like people are noticing and looking at you can feel strange and invasive.

So, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Whenever possible, prepare your child for photos and explain what is happening and when.
  • If your child is the only one in the photo not smiling, try to take it in stride. Often we feel this is a reflection of us, more than of our child. Try not to fall into this way of thinking and remember the child inside. No smiling is ok!
  • Respect your child’s wishes not to be photographed. Struggling about this can make the situation worse. Over time you can offer strategies and supports to make the photo shoot easier and he/she may come around. If appropriate, let your child take photos. Maybe if they take pictures of others they will get more comfortable with the idea of getting their picture taken.
  • Your child might respond to some people better than others when getting his/her picture taken. See if things change when someone else is behind the lens.
  • The more we have fun taking photos and having ourselves photographed, the more our children will follow suit. This may take a while, and even then, your child may never completely warm up to the camera. So try to enjoy the moment and not worry about those photobombs!

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