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Erin Brethauer January 13, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

Ginny and Claxton, from the series Autism Camp. Black Mountain, North Carolina 2012

Erin Brethauer (b. 1983, United States) is a staff photographer turned multimedia editor at the Asheville Citizen-Times, a daily newspaper in North Carolina where she has been working since 2007. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, she graduated in 2005 with an English degree from Marquette University and photography minor from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.  Since then she has interned with the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram (WI), The Morning News (SC), the Milwaukee Art Museum and has worked with the Associated Press. She was the president of the North Carolina Press Photographers Association from 2011 until February of 2013. Her personal project about Camp Lakey Gap, a camp for people with autism, has been awarded by the Magenta Foundation, FotoVisura, the North Carolina Press Photographers Association and the Asheville Area Arts Council.

About the Photograph:

“Camp Lakey Gap is a residential summer camp for people with autism located in Western North Carolina. I first went there for a newspaper assignment in 2008 and have returned nearly every summer to document the people and try to visualize the different ways these people communicate. When I learned that the Autism Society of North Carolina estimates that 1 out of 88 children born today have some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, I thought the story was especially relevant. In North Carolina they think the average is more like 1 out of 70 children.”

“This is an image of Ginny sharing a moment with her camper Claxton. She’s trying to coax him out of the pool at the end of the day. I think this picture helps challenge the perception that people with autism don’t make emotional connections with people. Ginny had a great fondness for Claxton and was very perceptive to the ways he communicated with her through facial and body language. They grew very close over their week together, forming a deep bond that was mostly nonverbal. It’s often the fleeting moments like this that the counselors cherish. Here they’re looking into each others eyes which, for Claxton, was a sign of trust.”