Autism Celebration 2012: Kevin's Birthday by Danielle Cloward

As we prepare for my son Kevin’s 8th birthday, we’ve been talking and trying to think of what to do for him and/or get him.  We decided to have a small birthday party - his first ever - consisting of Kevin and up to three of his Sunday School classmates.  We’re going to play with some of his favorite toys like Beyblades and bean bags and we’ll include some more traditional activities like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.  Kevin had only one request:  cake!  To fulfill this wish, we’re going to have cupcakes for the boys to decorate and eat.  This may all seem normal for an 8 year old boy, but, believe me, if it goes well, it will be a miracle.

Why?  Because Kevin is autistic and non-verbal, so the fact that he communicated “cake” to us is terrific; it means that what little speech he has is improving.  The fact that we feel he’s ready to have a birthday party, even if only with a few friends, is a step we never expected to be able to take;  Kevin’s doing something normal boys his age take for granted, and, so did we, until a few years ago.  I can’t wait to see the kids frosting their cupcakes!  It will be occupational therapy in secret, but tasty fun for all.

We’ve been considering gifts for Kevin; too, like clothes, Star Wars figures, and other toys, but none compare to the gift God gave us 8 years ago this April.  Kevin has opened our eyes to our need to become better parents and how to appreciate the small, everyday blessings of life we used to overlook like putting shoes on the correct feet, or being able to play a video game well enough to get through a level, or even the simple joy of snow falling.

Yes, Kevin’s 8th birthday means a lot of milestones for him, and us.  In the past few years, we’ve watched as Kevin struggles with speech, coordination, and social acceptance and have received much in return.  As we celebrate Autism Awareness Month, let us focus on what we have gained from our autistic loved ones who have enriched our lives far more than we could ever impact theirs.  I’m lucky enough to have 2 sons with autism, who help me become a better person every day. Thanks Kevin and David!

What birthday milestones have you experienced with your loved one with autism?

Would you like to comment?

Anonymous said...

Last year when my daughter with ASD pointed to a picture of a fancy cake in Woman's World magazine and requested it. You know I moved heaven and earth to find all the ingredients and make it special for her. This year we had two little girls show up unexpectedly on her birthday, and it was an instant party. I had already bought the special plates and hats and napkins and the pizza. My daughter felt it was a real party, even though we kept it really simple.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life on my blog today, Danielle. I love how you've shared the things Kevin loves and this new step he's taking - a party with friends. I hope he has a fabulous birthday party!

Birthdays are a big deal at our house and we've had some rather interesting parties for our son with Autism. Most of his parties have been just family, but we've had a few with friends. One of his favorites was the year we rented a bounce house. We invited about 8 of his friends from school. They had a blast bouncing away and ate tons of snow cones. It was a short party - 1 1/2 hours. We figured that would be plenty of stimulation for him. And he did great. I think all the joint compression from the bounce house really helped. =)

As for milestones, each year I make sure to look back at our son's journey. He's been blessed to have some incredible teachers and aides who have not only made him work hard, but have loved him, too. Each year, I pray and thank Heavenly Father for each and every one of them. I look at the progress our son has made and the journey still ahead of him. But most of all, I love to think about all of our family moments over the past year. The funny ones, the sweet ones, and all those proud parent moments. I don't think about the challenges. On that one day, I just want to celebrate the blessings our son has brought into our lives and be grateful.

Thank you again, Danielle!

Tanya Parker Mills said...

One of the best birthday parties I ever threw was for my son the year the first Harry Potter movie came out. I think he was in 3rd grade and all of the 20 kids we invited came!

We lucked out and were able to borrow a set piece of a castle entrance and set it up just inside our front door (luckily our home had high cathedral ceilings). We had the sorting hat, Snape's Potions Class, a game of Search for the Snitch, etc. His older sister even dressed up and took part.

Jason loved the whole thing. We even had a cake (though he didn't eat any). I think that was a huge milestone for him with his classmates.

Thanks, Danielle for sharing your story...and thanks, Danyelle, for posting all of these!