Until the age of two Jessica was like any other child : she ran around with her older brother, played with Boxy, the family’s dog, and was a joyous child growing up in Canada. Then, a little after her second birthday her parents began to notice her strange behavior. Jessie was unresponsive, she zoned in on the tile patterns at their home, sat in the back yard for hours staring at the grass. She was diagnosed with autism. “At the time I did not know what autism is,” said Pam Kissondyal, Jessica’s mother. Ten years later Jessie still struggles due to her autism. Every day is a challenge. From getting up in the morning until going to bed in the evening Jessie has to have someone around her to help her with everyday activities. She has progressed tremendously. Every new sound or word that she formulates brings tremendous joy to her parents. Pam Kissoondyal was kind enough to let me inside her family’s life and record Jessie struggle through photography. I only hope this photo story does justice to the Kissondyals and especially Jessie and that it portrays how truly special she is.

A little bit about me

Hello,

My name is Lidia Dinkova and I am a student at the University of Florida majoring in journalism with a concentration in photojournalism.

I knew I wanted to tell true stories in a compelling and an impactful way since the day my hands held a newspaper. A newspaper story or a photograph can reach a massive and global audience, sway opinions or provoke action. This, in part, led me to choose this career path in hopes that one day, I, too, can be a small part of a change in a community for the better. Whether that will be the case or not, however, is not my motivational force. I just know I like telling stories.

Wherever my career path takes me I know I will be happy as a journalist or a photojournalist. I also know that I enjoyed my time at UF so far in large part thanks to some of the classes I took as a journalist major.

I've included some of my work on the following pages, including a few of my articles.

Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.