2nd Place / Editorial / Photo Essay and Feature Story

The Sound Of The Whispers

  • Photographer
    Giovanni Capriotti
  • Date of Photograph
  • Technical Info

Each working 20 hours a day, Dany and Natalie struggle to secure a stable future for their son Gaby, who was diagnosed with autism at 2. Now 24, the services he has received since childhood will end, letting the family alone in looking after a severely disabled adult man.


At the age of two, Gaby’s parents Dany and Natalie thought he was deaf. Every time they tried to talk to him, the toddler would look around disoriented. That’s when the family decided to seek medical help. It did not take long for the doctors to diagnose the child with autism, changing forever the life of the Desmeules. Three years after Gaby’s birth, the family was hit by an even worse event, the loss of their third child Mikael to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The infant was only four months old. Now 24, Gaby is a nonverbal autistic young adult. He attends the Centre Champagnat in Montreal, where he receives one-to-one assistance. Due to the budget cuts operated by the Quebec government, the current school year will be the last for him. Beginning in the summer of 2017 the Desmeules will have to take care of Gaby full time. Gaby’s parents Dany Desmeules and Natalie Larouche work two jobs. Roughly a year ago they ventured into an entrepreneurial project taking over a variety store. They open at 6:30 am and close at about 10:30 pm, 7 days a week. They take turns getting some rest during the day, and at night they deliver newspapers in Montreal. The Desmeules hope that through their sacrifices and exhausting lifestyle they will be able to give Gaby a stable future. Too often society forgets how children with disabilities eventually become adults fully depending on parents or other family members, as long as they are able or available to care for them.

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