Categories: Parent Perspective

Birthdays have always been huge for me and my kids. I was that Mom trying to plan out every tiny detail, making sure everything was perfect. I remember when she was turning three making sure  all of the girls had matching tutus and she really had no interest. 

It took a few years to realize that large parties really weren’t her choice and  that it was more fun for her to celebrate on a smaller scale. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy being around friends and family, she just didn’t like being around a lot people at one time. She would start to get very agitated and I could see that large gatherings made her anxious. Sensitivity to noise also caused a problem. 

Ady was diagnosed with autism around age 2. We realized that opting for experiences that she would enjoy and remember would outweigh any party that we could throw for her. This past month we took her to a museum and aquarium during a slower time and we let her swim in the hotel pool-which she loves to do. Especially during the time when it is too chilly to swim outside.

I also had the idea to write a birthday letter for her. It was a way for her to stay connected with her peers, letting them know what she enjoys doing on her birthday, and that she was happy to celebrate with them at school. I received a few responses from parents that had received the letter and they were able to read it with their child. A few friends from her class dropped by to say “hi” and they dropped presents for her in a more relaxed setting. It’s never about the gifts, but the fact they they are taking the time to do that and show her that they care. 

Ady’s Birthday Letter

When your child isn’t playing sports or having sleepovers/hangouts with peers this is sometimes a level of worry and concern in regards to maintaining a connection. 

If you ask her siblings they would say just invite the whole class! It’s just not Ady’s speed. Even though she does things differently, I still want her to feel special and help her to feel that she’s part of a crew. She doesn’t have the typical day of an 11 year old. School, therapy in school, therapy after school 6 days out of the week.

I thought about what she would want to do most and give her a memorable experience instead. We played in parks in the city and visited an aquarium during a slower time. 

Over the past weekend we celebrated Ady’s 11th birthday with family and just a few friends. We limited the amount of people we invited to her party and she was able to pass out a special treat to her friends in her classroom at school, along with her birthday letter. 

A few parents contacted me and shared that they enjoyed reading the letter with their child. Although the letter was written to build that connection with her classmates, I thought it was very kind that a few of them wanted to drop off presents for 

Even though we don’t have that constant connection that typical peers may have in regards to texting and hang outs, It still shows that she is loved and understood by her peers. There have been times where we were at our local park and friends would stop what they we’re doing and came over to her to say hello without anyone telling them to do so. To me that is huge. I hope that she is able to carry those special friendships through high school. I know that she remembers people that show her kindness and it isn’t quickly forgotten. 

Susan Bitler
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1 Comment

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