Ever since I was four years old, I can remember having severe anxiety. Pulling almost all of my hair out, needing my mom constantly, and biting off my little finger nails. I pulled all my hair out on the left side of my head in kindergarten, not even knowing what I was doing.

Since I was about eight years old, I absolutely loved being behind the camera, and I knew that I wanted to become a model. Skipping to a couple years later, to about 7th grade, my anxiety got higher and higher while my head looked lower and lower to the ground. At 11 years old, I was diagnosed with OCD and severe anxiety. After years of being badly bullied and being homeschooled, at 15 years old I was diagnosed with autism. Being diagnosed with autism didn’t come as a surprise to my family or me. We knew something was going on, and felt almost relieved now knowing what it was.

Being behind the camera has really helped me through my autism.

It has helped me have more confidence in myself! Confidence can be a hard thing to accomplish, but being behind the camera in front of the photographer and doing different, crazy things has definitely helped boost my confidence. The different poses, outfits, and makeup can be very unique! I was always a head down, quiet talking, gets-red-in-the-face kind of girl. Being behind the camera made me realize that it’s good to love yourself! Loving yourself is one of the best things you can do, and it’s one of the most important ways to get through life.

Photography has helped me realize it’s okay to be you.

Growing up, I always compared myself to other girls. I would say “I wish I looked like her,” or “I wish I had her hair,” or the worst I would say, ”I wish I was normal like her.” I now realize, it is MORE than okay to be me! Even though I face different struggles and challenges, I am more than happy being myself.

photo wall
Image via Beth Cath

Photography has helped me discover who I am.

Who am I? I’m an outgoing, pose striking, loud laughing 17 year old! My challenges do not define me, and never will. Discovering who I really am is probably one of the best things that’s happened to me, because when I was first diagnosed with autism, I had no idea who I was.

My autism did not stop me from doing what I always dreamed to do; I knew what my dream was and that if I wanted to pursue it, I would have to look past it. When I’m behind the camera, I feel anxiety free. I feel like nothing has ever been wrong, and it’s the best feeling. Having autism may be a huge challenge, but I will not let it define my strength.

Feature Image via Madison Holmlund



  1. Very impressive article. Thank you, Claire, for sharing your experience with us. Your passion is your strength that’s why you are able to achieve the goal. Your positive attitude makes you unique and can help you do things in a better way than others.

    Very inspiring post. I have learned many new things from you.
    Best of Luck!!

  2. Poignant article, autism and art go hand in hand. You literally do perceive things differently and create things which manifest this. Autism has be called many things throughout time and every society seems to understand that artists are fundamentally different. Many successful artists are autistic and seem to reach a level where there eccentricities are tolerated. I remember having dinner with a famous artist in NYC at a Vietnamese restaurant near his loft ,he couldn’t really dicepher menu and just pointed to the pictures on the menu of what he wanted. Stories like this are common. Books could be written on art and autism. I would only have two pieces of advice 1 Work as hard as you can , do as much as you can 2 Have some friends or trusted advisors who are familiar with art and business to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of, no matter how young your are or inexperienced you are unfortunately they’re are some people not all who will try to take advantage of you. Get a consignment form this states the price of the work, (standard cut is 50/50 thus for a young artist let’s say $ 4,000 art dealer get $2,000 artist gets $2,000. Dont go to far from this, and length of consignment 6th months is good . Ideally dealer should pay immediately after sale but 6 months gives you some insurance. Make sure both forms are exactly the same and are signed by both you and art dealer. This is just a rough guide, there should be templates online- never hand over a work of art with out a signed written agreement,

    Work hard,have fun! The world is yours

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