These photographs taken in Kenya are from an on-going photographic study on the burden of care for parents and siblings of children with special needs. They form part of a larger body of work that seeks to raise awareness of children with neurological impairments and disabilities in resource poor settings.


Boy suspected of having autism was bullied at school and preferred to stay at home.


After a long day at work this father looked after his son to give his wife a break.

 This father took great care of his son and encouraged the boy to communicate.

This mother was helping to set up a parent support group in the community.

A qualified pre-school teacher, this mother could not work and cared for her son.

An adolescent girl confined to a makeshift wheelchair was in her cousin's care.

 This mother had little choice but to depend on her husband and neighbours for support.

This mother expressed the isolation she and her son shared on a daily basis. 

Unemployed and living in a quarry this mother could not take her son to hospital for treatment.

Please contact Karren Visser if you wish for further information on this project. All images are copyright and may NOT be used without express permission from the photographer in writing.

Karren Visser majored in photography at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town in the mid-eighties. After receiving her degree she was a photographic researcher and assistant to the South African documentary photographer, David Goldblatt, and a historical archaeology archivist for Professor Martin Hall, the head of the Archaeology Department at the University. She also worked for the socio-political business magazine, Leadership. She then assisted in the setting up of the University of Cape Town’s academic publishing company, UCT Press, and worked as a freelance copyeditor and book designer. After this, she was closely involved in establishing a small screen-printing company that was one of the first to have Black Economic Empowerment status by the newly elected African National Congress government. In the late nineties, she moved to the UK and worked in corporate sales, selling psychotropic medications to hospital doctors and training psychiatric nurses on the first long-acting injectable antipsychotic. Since 2007, she has lived for part of the year in Kenya and the rest in the UK. This has enabled her to return to her interest in photography. She is documenting children with autism, in association with Autism Society of Kenya, the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme and the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry. She has worked as a project coordinator for Professor William Bosl, Director of Health Informatics, University of San Francisco within the University’s Global Health programme in collaboration with MIT/Sana. This was part of an ongoing community mobilization and public health initiative to raise awareness of mental health in Africa. Her recent work includes a photographic documentary on the burden of care for families of children with neuro-impairments and disabilities.







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