The little girl who can't say I love you: Family share intimate and heartbreaking moments raising their three-year-old autistic daughter

By Daily Mail Reporter

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Everyday life for the Michigan parents of a three-year-old girl with autism has been captured in an engaging set of images.

Photographer Clay Lomneth became struck by how Michaelynn, who has never said the words 'I love you', found ways to express herself.

Her parents, Trevor Gillett and Erica Sanchez, had warned the photographer their daughter was wary of strangers, but she quickly accepted his presence and mostly ignored him over the five-month project.

Michaelynn looks out of her bedroom window. Her mother says she often wonders what her daughter is seeing

Michaelynn looks out of her bedroom window. Her mother says she often wonders what her daughter is seeing

A rare smile from Michaelynn as her father surprises her. 'She can't tell you

A rare smile from Michaelynn as her father surprises her. 'She can't tell you "I love you" but I think she tries in her own little way,' Trevor said

Michaelynn stands in a closet of her new home

Michaelynn stands in a closet of her new home

Erica enjoys a rare moment of affection from Michaelynn

Erica enjoys a rare moment of affection from Michaelynn

Lomneth, whose pictures are featured on his blog, spent all his free time with the family, who have two other children, documenting the way they cope with Michaelynn's autism.

Over the project, the family moved to a new apartment, and Mr Gillett had his first night out for the first time since his daughter's birth.

 

'It is kind of like having an infant all the time,' Lomneth said. 'It kind of put everything into perspective in a certain way.'

The photographer also caught how the family helped Michaelynn through breakdowns caused by her autism, often holding her upside down - one of her favorite things - to try to calm her.

Michaelynn's parents also opened up about what life was like for a family affected by autism.

After playing outside Erica gives Michaelynn a bath. The three-year-old doesn't like having her head touched

After playing outside Erica gives Michaelynn a bath. The three-year-old doesn't like having her head touched

Erica takes a break while trying to feed Michaelynn her dinner

Erica takes a break while trying to feed Michaelynn her dinner

Photographer Clay Lomath says Michaelynn quickly accepted him but mostly ignored him

Photographer Clay Lomath says Michaelynn quickly accepted him but mostly ignored him

'Knowing that your three-year can't tell you that she's hungry, or that she stubbed her toe, just that she's in a hysterical breakdown and you try everything,' Mr Gillett said.

'You try the bottle, you try changing the diaper, you try changing the movie, you try playing with her and her toys. Sometimes nothing works.'

Ms Sanchez added: 'It makes me appreciate more often when she comes and gives me a hug, because that doesn't happen too often.'

'When she brings her face to mine and let's me give her a big one, I feel like the best mom in the world.'

A distressed Michaelynn cries as she clings to a toy car

A distressed Michaelynn cries as she clings to a toy car

Trevor cuddles his daughter as she has a breakdown while watching her sister play soccer. Public places are stressful for the youngster

Trevor cuddles his daughter as she has a breakdown while watching her sister play soccer. Public places are stressful for the youngster

Trevor holds Michaelynn upside down as she has a mild breakdown. One of her favorite sensations is being upside down

Trevor holds Michaelynn upside down as she has a mild breakdown. One of her favorite sensations is being upside down

With his daughter tucked upside down under one arm, Trevor carries her through the house

With his daughter tucked upside down under one arm, Trevor carries her through the house

Trevor puts a movie on for his daughter to watch in her room. He says it is hard to know what to do for her when she is distressed

Trevor puts a movie on for his daughter to watch in her room. He says it is hard to know what to do for her when she is distressed

Michaelynn cries in her crib as she is settled down with a bottle of milk

Michaelynn cries in her crib as she is settled down with a bottle of milk

Trevor has a rare night off from parenting duties, his first since his daughter was born

Trevor has a rare night off from parenting duties, his first since his daughter was born

The inquisitive three-year-old shines a light on her face as she plays at night

The inquisitive three-year-old shines a light on her face as she plays at night

A warning sign alerts others to Michaelynn's condition

A warning sign alerts others to Michaelynn's condition

Michaelynn watches TV upside down. Often when she is upset her parents hold her by her feet to help calm her

Michaelynn watches TV upside down. Often when she is upset her parents hold her by her feet to help calm her

Team: Trevor and Erica enjoy a moment of silliness together

Team: Trevor and Erica enjoy a moment of silliness together

Michaelynn looks intently at a new toy as she figures out what it is

Michaelynn looks intently at a new toy as she figures out what it is

Moving day: Trevor sets up a crib in his daughter's new room after they move home

Moving day: Trevor sets up a crib in his daughter's new room after they move home

Chips are knocked across the floor as Michaelynn plays with a tea set

Chips are knocked across the floor as Michaelynn plays with a tea set

Mesmerized, Michaelynn watches a big screen TV

Mesmerized, Michaelynn watches a big screen TV

The three-year-old plays at a picnic table during a family bonfire party

The three-year-old plays at a picnic table during a family bonfire party

Michaelynn amuses herself by repeatedly falling backwards on a sofa. her parents say she enjoys being tossed about

Michaelynn amuses herself by repeatedly falling backwards on a sofa. her parents say she enjoys being tossed about

While a movie about an autistic girl plays in the background Michaelynn amuses herself with her mother's phone

While a movie about an autistic girl plays in the background Michaelynn amuses herself with her mother's phone

As her siblings and a friend watch a movie Michaelynn plays on her own

As her siblings and a friend watch a movie Michaelynn plays on her own

Michaelynn plays barefoot in a garden area. She used to refuse to play outside because she didn't like the feel of grass

Michaelynn plays barefoot in a garden area. She used to refuse to play outside because she didn't like the feel of grass

Fascinated, Michaelynn watches a Tinkerbell movie at the family's old apartment

Fascinated, Michaelynn watches a Tinkerbell movie at the family's old apartment

Trevor swings Michaelynn around to make her laugh after a long day moving house

Trevor swings Michaelynn around to make her laugh after a long day moving house

The three-year-old hides under a pile of laundry

The three-year-old hides under a pile of laundry

Michaelynn plays on an iPad. Her mother downloaded apps for children with autism but the little girl rarely plays with them

Michaelynn plays on an iPad. Her mother downloaded apps for children with autism but the little girl rarely plays with them

Erica Sanchez has a button hanging from her purse declaring her love for her autistic daughter

Erica Sanchez has a button hanging from her purse declaring her love for her autistic daughter



The comments below have not been moderated.

I wonder how many of the people who red arrow'd me have children with autism or ADHD and/or are educated and have read much of the independent research out there? There are thousands upon thousands of reports submitted to the CDC and hundreds of compensation payments paid out to vaccine victims every year. I too used to believe big pharma was there to keep me healthy, until this happened to my daughter (she had a seizure immediately after having her 7 shots at 4 mths). I do believe the reviewer is onto something when she states that maybe hib given at birth is to blame. I have read research on this. It is possible the hib vaccine over stimulates the immune system and so when given the overdose of aluminium in the 7 vaccines at 2 mths, 4 mths, 6 mths etc its too much for the delicate immune system to handle. It is now believed 1 in 50 children suffer from autism spectrum, something quite rare pre-1970's vaccine programme.

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Where is the visual schedule??? What is the daily routine. Speech, OT, PT?

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There are so many gains in therapy for treating ASD now...i wonder if her parents do anything interventive in nature. A circle of my friends and i have children with varying degrees on the spectrum. We use the defeat autism now protocol with little tweaks here and there for the customized needs of our own children. The most severely affected child is now mainstreamed in third grade, affectionate, and he was sitting in his room, melting down "stimming" multiple times a day just two years ago. Paula isn't being mean, she is being honest. This coming from a woman who has an ADHD child and went from holding therapy every day with my son to not having a breakdown in six months. Mommy and daddy are co dependent and need to stop using michaelynn as an excuse, and get her help so she can break out of her prison and shine.

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This was a lovely yet heart-breaking piece I'm in awe of such families with autistic children, they are here for a special reason. It must be ever so hard to be such brave parents yet so rewarding to, to have such a beautiful angel around all the time. I think she might benefit well from a guidance trained dog. Autistic children seem to really blossom with such a pet and helper.

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Even normal children do not learn to communicate better with too much screen time. Take the TV out of the kid's room, turn off the one in the living room and interact with her. There have been too many studies on the terrible effect of screen time on children's brains to think that this is going to help her.

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I know many kids with autism, even both my brothers. It's lovely whenever they do something great, you just wanna burst with pride.

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The p in paula stands for pos.

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Seems like they are exploiting their daughter a bit. My daughter has Asperger's and Reactive Attachment Disorder and at the same age could not communicate and very rarely showed affection. She was 4 before I got my first kiss. I would never bring somebody in to take pictures and possibly make my now 9 yr old daughter uncomfortable. My daughter now acts much younger than her age but is learning to make friends and is the love of my life.

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I think this raises awareness of autism for peopl who never encounter autistic children....

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I agree with you they do seem to be exploiting her. I'm sorry for all the red arrows you've received but know this is a green one and I have hope you will find a way through your turmoils with this. And I believe everything you said. If not liking the feel of grass under foot makes one autistic then I am too.

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Paula. We're you born this nasty or was it something you really had to work hard at?

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My 10 yr old son is on the higher end of the spectrum and I'm fortunate he can communicate verbally, play with peers and show affection. Even so, most days contain disagreements and noncompliance. The parents in the article have it so much tougher and it's truly wrong to post negative comments about them.

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