1 in 50: Dana R. Napoleon


This is my beautiful 10 year old son, Keanu.

Keanu was diagnosed with autism at age 3.

He is a sweet, brave little soul.

I was asked to write a few of my thoughts down about autism, Keanu, and how others’ can help with this growing global epidemic.
(thank you Chris)

My husband Bobby has also created a nonprofit foundation,  It Takes a Village Foundation, for local families also affected by autism. We would love for you to take a moment and view the site.



Keanu has changed me forever, I see life with a different pair of eyes now. Things that were important to me at age 25, no longer are.

All I care about is the acceptance, love and safety of my Keanu and his sister Jasmine.

1 in 50 children in the USA are now on the autism spectrum, HOW did we get to this place?

We simply MUST leave no stone unturned in our search for the cause, treatment, and prevention of autism.

We have a sea of adults affected by autism fast approaching us, what then will we do? This epidemic affects us all.

I never pictured myself as being an activist, advocate, or outspoken person. But, here I am. All of those things, for the love of my son, and to try to pave the way for kids who cannot stand up for themselves.

Some days are hard for me, but I stop and think about how hard they must be for him.

A simple thing such as taking a family vacation, or even a day out on the town requires tremendous planning and patience. For some, it cannot be done. Very little support and acceptance is offered for families affected by autism. We battle Insurance Companies for coverage of therapies, Public Education for not serving our kids to their fullest potential, and society for discrimination of our children.

This needs to change.

He continues to be a positive light in a life filled with obstacles, I am very grateful for him.

His unwavering goal; to buy a large lot of land in Hawaii (his native home) and open a farm for individuals with autism. To learn how to live a sustainable life, grow organic vegetables and fruit, learn how to fish in the ocean, ride horses, play music, live a happy life of acceptance and growth.

The future is unknown for not only my son, but, all the other children affected by autism, and their siblings as well.

My message is this:
Please support the families you know who are living with autism. Please don’t shy away because you don’t know how best to help. Just try. Acceptance is HUGE with our families.
We lose many friends and even some family members along the way, it can be heartbreaking to us all.
When you see a family affected by autism out in the world, please don’t judge, just think about how you would feel if that were your own child. Compassion is all that we ask.

I enjoyed shooting these photos of Keanu with my Polaroid Sun 660

and Impossible Project color pack and b+w films

I wanted to capture him doing the things he most enjoys –
He loves to draw, sing, climb, play at the beach, go for drives in our old Jeep, and he loves to drag around and snuggle up in my white down comforter, ha!

I thank you for reading this.

Sincerely, Dana


  1. Hi Dana… Keanu sounds amazing… as do you and your family. I too am a photographer and mama with 2 kids (a boy and a girl), one of whom has autism. I often tell people that Autism is one of the greatest gifts to me as it has made me a more patient, loving, and compassionate person than I ever would have become had I not had this complex element in my life. Cheers to you, Keanu, and the rest of your sweet family. If you care to, you can read about mine at http://www.upsidedowner.com

  2. What a wonderful post!! I, too, have a son on the spectrum. You described life with autism perfectly. And thank you for asking others to see life with autism with compassion. I love your images, too. I am inspired to do a pack or two of instant film with my son.

  3. Dana-I love that you are such a strong advocate for not just Keanu but all the other beautiful children with Autism. I know you want us to post something for Keanu but I want to also say how amazing you are too! I am always inspired by you and admire all that YOU do. Keanu is brilliant and so incredibly smart. Him and Joshua could take over the world!! Keanu is a lucky guy; especially with a Mum like you! Love you! Janine

  4. I love these. Beautiful work Dana.

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