A Birthday Celebration

Dear Addie,

This week we celebrated your amazing big brother Gabe’s 11th birthday! I still cant believe he's 11 - where has the time gone?

Now I know I've written to you about, well...just about everyone's birthday in our family, so you're probably thinking, seriously mom, there can’t really be anything new here. Right?!

But here's the thing, you may have noticed now that birthdays come every year and our family being a party of 5 means we get to celebrate quite a bit. Lucky us!

Now with you being predictably reclusive to the whole overwhelming birthday charade, we’ve been surprised the last year or two that ironically the somewhat predictability of these special birthday events has brought us moments where we can see marked progress in your journey. Progress on a number of different things have been quite difficult dealing with in the past.

For instance tolerating an excessive amount of people in a space than you’re normally comfortable with. Being OK with (or dare I say even playing with) a balloon residing in the same room with you, or God forbid someone sniffling from these dreadful North Carolina allergies and needing a tissue! Anyone who knows you knows your mind is set that tissues are the devils work!

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When you have sensory & social challenges the list could go on and on on how something as simple as a birthday party could make for a very frustrating, anxiety ridden day, rather than one to celebrate. But I'm happy to report that marked progress has most definitely been seen over time in all these areas! Kudos my love.

Now with big brother Gabe turning 11 we thought a small gathering - with a very few close friends on his actual birthday would be fun! (Lord knows I struggle with getting a traditional birthday party with friends, invites and goodie bags organized and executed on or near actual birthdays - the struggle is real.)

Let me tell you there are many things that make Gabe awesome, but his love and relationship with you is truly a beautiful sight to witness. As much as he’d want his friends with him to celebrate, he wants you there too.

You see Ad, even in your nonverbal years, and heck even now when language can be somewhat challenging, he gets you on a level not only a big brother would understand, but a best friend would as well.

He's always thinking of new ways to get you to laugh (the deep belly laugh kind of happy) and is eager to share your accomplishments or any autism information he may have come across with others.

He's super proud of you.

Most recently he discovered that the person who holds the world record for solving a rubik cube has autism! He thought this was pretty awesome because it was very much a hybrid of both you and him. With his love and insane talent of solving rubik cubes, and your autism - I'm pretty sure he’ll be trying to teach you in no time, so fair warning my dear.

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So with your rubik cube loving, big brother Gabe’s birthday here, we were excited to celebrate and see what new progress you would bring along with you.

Now Addie, with all the positive improvements we’ve seen, its important to keep in mind this didn't come without a lot of hard work and dedication from you. We see this, recognize this, and are amazingly proud of all you have done and continue to do. We’re seeing progress everyday and have seen notable difference in many aspects of our day to day functions and in family activities. Now don't get me wrong, we still have our fair share of bad days. Sensory meltdowns or tantrums (yes, tantrums) are still part of this journey whether we like it or not. In fact, just an hour before this small birthday gathering was to start, you had an epic episode that resulting in a much needed ”cool down” walk around the block. Not gonna lie, after this I was a little worried for how the rest of our evening was going to go.

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Luck seemed to be on our side and after a walk, all was right in your world again. Phew!

Guests arrived and it didn't take long for birthday-fun-chaos to commence.

For those who have never been to our house - it’s loud. Always. Instead of shying away from the chaos - you happily jumped right in and I mean literally, jumping and stimming nonstop throughout the night.

You played with the big kids, shared your swing & new fort, even played with baby Austin - who in my mind has definitely proven to be your baby muse! ...but that's a whole other blog ;)

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At one point I realized I wasn't tip toeing around your next move and there was just a sense of calm. It was Gabe’s day and that's where our focus was. You were happy and not irritated, even engaging in your own way with our guests.

When it came time for cake, you promptly got up to shut off all the lights as daddy lit the candles, quickly finding your seat back next to Gabe because surely he’d need your assistance blowing out his candles. Not to mention your little finger needed to take a swipe at the frosting - you know... to ensure it was safe for everyone to eat ;)

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So this weekend we celebrated Gabe and you were happily part of his special day. This meant a great deal to all of us, but was really extra special for your big brother who adores you so much.

Great job Ad.