How We Taught Our Autistic Child To Look At The Camera

Written By Autism Parents

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism

How We Taught Our Autistic Child To Look At The Camera

Teaching an autistic child to look at the camera for photos can be a challenging endeavour.

Knowing how difficult it can be and indeed was for us, I thought it may be helpful to retrace our steps.

Photos and autistic kids

As a parent, capturing those precious moments with our children is something we cherish, creating memories that we can look back on fondly.

However, for parents of children with autism, such as myself, this task can often present unique challenges.

My daughter, is on the autism spectrum, and for the longest time, getting her to look at the camera for photos was a hurdle we couldn’t seem to overcome.

It became a real problem when we were trying to get a photo for her passport.

Anyone who has been through the process will know that the passport office has very strict rules.

Don’t smile, don’t wear glasses, don’t have shadows across your face and you MUST look at the camera.

Wanting to get away for a summer holiday this year, we knew something had to give.

How we taught our autistic child to look at the camera
Teaching an autistic child to look at the camera can be tough.

From an early age

From the time our daughter was a toddler, taking photos was always a bit of an ordeal.

Like many children with autism, she has at times difficulties with direct eye contact, which made looking at the camera almost impossible.

She would often become overwhelmed or distracted, looking everywhere but at the lens.

It was disheartening, not because we needed perfect photos, but because we wanted to capture her beautiful essence and share these moments with our family and friends.

Trial and error

I tried various strategies, from making silly faces to using her favorite toys as props, but nothing seemed to work consistently.

It was during a conversation with a fellow parent of a child with autism that I stumbled upon a piece of advice that would become our game-changer.

She suggested using a small, repeatable object as a focal point on the phone itself, something that would capture her attention.

I opted for a sticker of the Disney character Elsa.

I managed to cut a small enough hole in the sticker so to not butcher our snow loving friend but so that she could almost wrap around the lense.


The results were nothing short of miraculous.

For the first time, our daughter’s curiosity was piqued enough for her to look in the direction of the camera.

Her gaze naturally drawn to the sticker of Elsa.

There was something about the presence of the sticker that seemed to soothe her, making the camera less intimidating.

I also found that counting down “one two three, look at me” when pointing towards the lens helped too.

During this countdown I decided to cover Elsa up also with my hand, so that when the reveal took place our daughter’s eyes focused.

As I gently encouraged her, using soft, reassuring tones, I clicked the shutter button, capturing a moment that was as beautiful as it was rare.

There she was, looking not directly at the lens, but close enough, with a soft smile playing on her lips.

It was a breakthrough moment for us.

The lady who shared this piece of advice personally used a sticker of an arrow near the lens, so you could try that also.

Easy peasy

This approach has since become a staple in our photo-taking endeavors.

Over time, our daughter has become more comfortable with the camera.

While direct eye contact is still rare, we’ve been able to capture a collection of photos that truly reflect her personality.

Each photo is a testament to her progress and a cherished memory that we hold dear.

Plus we managed that all important passport photo which was accepted by the powers that be.

How we taught our autistic child to look at the camera

I share our story in the hopes that it might inspire other parents facing similar challenges.

Sometimes, the key to overcoming a hurdle is to adapt our approach, integrating elements of comfort and familiarity into the process.

For us, a small sticker made all the difference, turning a challenge into an opportunity for connection and joy.

Our journey has taught me that the essence of capturing moments with our children lies not in the perfection of the photo, but in the love and understanding that goes into creating it.

For parents navigating the unique challenges of autism, finding creative, compassionate ways to engage with our children can open up a world of possibilities, not just for taking photos, but in all aspects of life.

Any tips or ideas?

We would love to hear from you if you have got any techniques or ideas for our readers to try.

Be sure to leave a comment if any of the above has helped or if you have any ideas we can add to this article.

Also be sure to search for any other articles you might find helpful.

Try for example searching below for topics like ‘meltdown’ or ‘communication’.

About the author

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism.

Leave a comment