Happy Birthday dear Henryyyyyy… Haaappy Biiiiiirthday toooooo youuuuuuu!!!
Donuts, apparently, are our go-to birthday breakfast this year, mainly because donuts are my favorite and I’m the early riser who is more willing to hit the Dunkin’ or Krispy Kreme drive through than I am willing to actually cook something. And, ya know, they’re a special treat and they’re all festive with the sprinkles and icings, and, seriously, we all love donuts!
Henry was pleased with his birthday breakfast donuts.
Planning things for Henry’s birthday feels dicey to me because he can be unpredictable in whether he’s in the mood for an outing. This year, since James was working, we did a lunch outing so that we could hang out with Dad on his lunch break. We took the kids to a kid-friendly spot for lunch downtown with a big lawn for running and playing, and conveniently located within walking (with kids) distance of a cute little cupcake bakery where we went for another birthday sweet treat after lunch.
Calvin was definitely more excited than Henry about the cupcakes. Henry doesn’t have quite the sweet tooth that his big brother has. (Plus it was pushing naptime at this point.) But the birthday boy nibbled his chocolate frosted cupcake and Calvin enjoyed his “Red White and Blue” cupcake, which had strawberry frosting and fresh bueberries on top.
Last, we went next door to a local bike shop to check out balance bikes. We are getting Henry a balance bike for his birthday, though at the moment we’re testing out one that we’re borrowing from a friend. The boys were not impressed with balance bikes. Calvin was like, “I want the one with training wheels,” and Henry was like “Guys, it’s waaaay past my naptime,” (interpreted, of course, from his pre-verbal cues).
Calvin had swimming lessons that week, so our evenings were busy and we saved Henry’s birthday party for Friday. So Friday after swim lessons we had pizza and more birthday sweet treats with our friends and their kids at the pool.
We took this pic to show that Henry was WAY more interested in playing in the water than he was interested in eating his birthday treats. I don’t think he had any cake at all and we just let him keep playing while we sang Happy Birthday! I mean, why force the bday boy to do something he’s not into?
That’s the funny thing about Henry’s birthday. With his cognitive delay and autism, I don’t think he “gets” that his birthday is a special day for him. But we still try to maintain our family birthday traditions and do special things that we think he’ll like, even if he may not really “get” that it’s his birthday or what a birthday is at all! It feels a little hard to balance doing special things that make us feel like we are making the day special for him with allowing him to be his special self, even if that means he’s not up for whatever special thing we planned… Like last year when I thought an ice cream birthday would be perfect for my July baby and it turned out that Henry did not want any ice cream, just ice wanter thankyouverymuch!!
In this past year, Henry has made some great progress with communication and walking, and he’s kind of obsessed with cause-and-effect – as in, if I throw this book off the top step, it will slide all the way down! and if I push this button on this toy, it will play music! Sometimes, honestly, it’s a problem when he’s trying to throw everything down all the stairs (we have to keep all the doors to the upstairs rooms closed at all times!!)… but it’s wonderful to see him exploring and figuring things out.
His walking stamina is much better this year and I think school helped a lot with that. One of his PT goals last year was about developing stamina to walk to different parts of the building and I see him able/willing to walk longer distances now compared to last year, even on uneven terrain (although he doesn’t like that!). He has also made progress with walking up and down stairs, though it’s still kinda hard for him.
I feel like we’ve seen the most progress with his communication this year. He brings us things he wants help with, like a cup to be refilled, or a toy he wants help using. He is signing “more” during meals to ask for another bite and we are trying to teach him a sign for “water” so he can differentiate between asking for food and drink. When he wants to sing his favorite songs, Wheels on the Bus or Row Your Boat, he will grab my hands and start making me do the hand motions. And he is verbalizing more intentionally. Sometimes he’ll sing out a note with certain familiar songs, like he is trying to sing along. When we sing the ABC’s, he sings “Ba, ba, ba, ba” – not quite to the tune, but it really seems like he’s trying! He still babbles a lot, and he has certain sounds that he babbles often. Just this morning as I was changing his diaper, he pulled his shirt over his face and then down again and said “Da Da Da!” in the same intonation and rhythm that we say “Peek-a-boo!”
Best of all, he has started babbling “Mamamama” when prompted! Which, to me, means we are one step closer to getting him to call me “Mama!” ❤
Though he still has needs and behaviors that are challenging for him and us – sensory seeking, self-harming (biting his arms), biting (us), and of course the obsession with throwing all the things down all the stairs – he is also still a sweet, affectionate, and overall happy kid. We are proud of him, we will continue to be there for him when things are hard, and we will continue to help him keep learning and growing.
We love our sweet Henry. Our 4-year-old boy!