Sean Garner, a 15-year-old with autism, having fun with his friends

Parents

Photographer captures the sweetness of autism friendships

The "Likely Friendships" project shows the close bonds people with autism form when they find their tribe.

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Nigel Odom, 3, who has autism, struggled to play and socialize with his sister, Sydney. Since attending a preschool program at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, he has become so social he's known as the "mayor of preschool." 

 

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Like many toddlers, Nigel Odom loves trains and cars. While he once played alone with his trains, he has developed social skills that have helped him bond with his sister and other children.

 

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When Chloe James, 5, first went to the Marcus Autism Center, she was angry because she couldn't communicate. Therapists used a therapy dog named Flip as incentive to help the nonverbal girl learn other communication techniques. 

 

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When Chloe James' family can't find her, she's often lying beside a dog. Her bond with Flip, the therapy dog at the Marcus Autism Center, has transformed her from frustrated and unable to communicate to an outgoing, communicative child. 

 

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Sean Garner, 15, who has autism, struggled to make friends. Since attending the Marcus Autism Center's Camp You B You sleep-away camp, he has befriended other gamers at school and they regularly stay up all night playing video games. 

 

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Having friends has helped Sean Garner better understand and accept who he is and how autism impacts him. 

 

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Bobby Stallings, 15, often experienced meltdowns because autism caused "traffic jams in his head." Since attending Camp You B You, he's learned skills to help him make friends who feel as close as family members. 

 

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Bobby Stallings' family encourages him to develop friendships by approaching other people and giving them a chance. 

 

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Noah Cates, 16, bonded with Flip the therapy dog in such a transformative way that his parents couldn't believe the change in his personality. 

 

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