Prepping for a Photo Session with Neurodivergent Kids | Minneapolis, MN

by | Mar 31, 2024 | Family Photography, Kiddos, Motherhood, Sessions

P.S. Just wanted to let you know that the images included in this blog post are not exclusively of families with neurodivergent kids. They are photos from family sessions generally! Neurological differences like ADHD, Autism, and other neurodivergensies aren’t visible. <3

My Favorite Humans are Neurodivergent

As a mom of neurodivergent humans (of the ADHD variety!) I get how stressful it can be to schedule anything that might… disrupt the routine. You know what I mean, right? I try my best not to worry about it, and to make sure that accommodating my son’s needs (and my needs, ADHD grown up here, guilty as charged!) doesn’t change what we do as a family.

Sometimes it means embracing a little chaos. Sometimes it means shifting things around a little bit – and that’s okay. It’s part of all the beautifully imperfect things that make being a mom amazing. Overwhelming, and stressful, and magical, and generally super cool.

But this isn’t about me, it’s about you. And what YOU can do to make sure that your neurodivergent kiddo is ready for their photo session when it comes around! Now, I want you to keep in mind, no kids accommodations are the same. And there’s no one-size-fits all solution to making sure that a photographer is going to meet your little one’s needs. But these are my absolute best tips that you can follow, to help make sure your photo session is as stress-free as possible! Both for you, AND your kiddos.

Talk to Your Photographer

Normally I end with this tip if it’s in the list, but today… we’re going to start with it. Because the biggest, most important thing you can do to make sure your kiddo is prepped for their photo session? It’s actually not about them. It’s about you communicating with your photographer.

Specifically, making sure that you have a chat with your photographer about their needs. You can’t prepare your kiddo for the session if you don’t talk to your photographer first. There are things you need to know, and things they’ll need to share. So if your photographer doesn’t offer a pre-session consultation, you need to reach out via email or SOMEthing, that way you can get the info to them.

You need to ask them about things like sensitivities – bright lights can absolutely be a problem for some people (young and old!) with sensory needs, and so can flashing lights. But sometimes in the studio… those are the norm. It can be worked around, 99% of the time though, which is why you need to bring it up!

If there are things you know helps your little one cope with being in public spaces and you are indeed coming into someone’s studio for your photos, tell your photographer about those things!! Maybe it’s playing some calming music in the background. Maybe it’s making sure your photographer stays extra calm when they’re meeting, instead of getting excited and high-energy.

But whatever it is: tell. Your. Photographer. Accommodating your kiddo’s needs is the BEST way to prepare them for a session.

brothers in matching navy polo shirts during Minneapolis Fall Mini Sessions

Take Their Needs Into Account When Planning

On the topic of accommodating their needs, you’ve got some steps too, outside of talking to your photographer! When you’re planning things for the session, like location, and wardrobe, it’s important that you consider your kiddo’s needs. Now, obviously I know you’re going to be doing that anyway. I’m not over here thinking you’re going to plan a session that goes against what your kiddo (or kiddos!) needs for things to go well.

But sometimes it means making some adjustments to expectations around things like wardrobe. To give you a personal example, my neurodivergent son? He will only wear blue. There are no neutral rustic-vibe family photo sessions in my future. And that’s okay with me! But if you have a vision for a session and it doesn’t align with your kiddo’s needs… how can you make adjustments? I know these are things you think about all the time. Trust me, I get it.

But sometimes it helps to hear from another mom, that number one: I see you, Momma. You’re doing the thing, and you’re doing it well. And number two: You do NOT have to come up with the work arounds on your own!! It’s literally my job to help you create a session that works for your family, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen. Even if it means temporarily becoming a part of your village, and helping you figure out how to get the vibe you want with wardrobe items that line up with your kiddo’s needs.

There is ALWAYS a way!

A mom hugging her two daughters during a Minneapolis Fall Mini Session

Collect Their Favorite Things!

This is another one that I’m betting you already do, but we’re going to talk about it anyway because I wanna try to break down some stigma here. Some kiddos need their comfort items. Whether it’s a blanket, a binkie, a stuffed toy, or a plastic dinosaur, you’re allowed to bring it with you. I know that you already know you’re allowed, but I’m saying it because it’s important to hear OTHER people say you can. No one in my studio is going to look at you or your kiddo like you have two heads if your 7 year old walks in with a comfort toy that is definitely something you bought for the dog but they claimed it and its theirs now.

The same goes for snacks. Even if your little one’s safe food is something totally out there, and you feel weird taking it places. My studio isn’t just a safe place for your kiddos – it’s a safe place for YOU too! Zero judgment. Zero funny looks. Unless the funny look is to make you smile in a picture, THAT I will probably do.

A mom hugging her two daughters during a Minneapolis Fall Mini Session

Need to get there a Little Early?

One of the biggest things I hear from parents of neurodivergent children is that they’re worried about a studio session because their kids don’t do well in new spaces, and it takes them time to warm up. Now, I want to be 100% clear here, the studio is NOT the only option for location for your session!! We can go to gorgeous green spaces throughout Minneapolis, or I can come to you.

But if you want to come into the studio, you’re always more than welcome to come a little early! Make sure we talk about it first (coming back to point one, right? Talking to your photographer?) but we can set your session at a time where you can come a little early, and give your little one the chance to get acclimated to the space!

A mom hugging her two daughters during a Minneapolis Fall Mini Session

I’ll Accommodate Your Kiddos!!

(And YOU, as well!!)

If there’s one thing I want to get across here, it’s that I will absolutely accommodate your neurodivergent kiddos in photo sessions. You deserve photos of your family, and you deserve for that to be the lowest stress possible situation for everyone involved. And sometimes that means making adjustments to my process – and I’m TOTALLY fine with that! It just means open communication, some problem solving, and working together. And I’m all about that. So if you’ve been nervous about booking a photo session for your family, or even for specifically your little one, reach out. We should talk. Because I would love to schedule the perfect session for your unique family’s needs!

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