Making birthdays special even when you’re a struggling #Autism family

One of the things that really sucks when you’re struggling for lack of a better word, is birthdays.  Today is Emmett’s birthday and unfortunately, it falls between pays.

When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, there’s very little, if any, wiggle room.  If a birthday falls in between pays, it’s really hard to come up with the money to do anything to celebrate.

When you’re talking about adults, it’s not a big deal but when you’re talking about a kids birthday, it’s not so easy.

With Emmett’s birthday being today and me not getting paid until Thursday or Friday (around the 1st of July), I literally don’t have anything left to pull off a decent birthday present until then.

It’s really tough for kids with Autism to cope with having to wait for anything and birthday present are no exception.

Having said that, just because we have to wait a few days to get him his present, doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate in a meaningful way.  It doesn’t mean that at all.  ☺

One of the birthday traditions we have is making a special birthday dinner for the birthday person.  Thankfully, being able to pull that off for Emmett was within our means and that’s really awesome.

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Emmett wanted to cook hamburgers, sausage and hotdogs on the grill.

I know that may seem simple but it’s special for him and we make it even more special watching a movie (Emmett’s choice) with dinner.  ☺

Another positive thing is that we were able to pull off a birthday cake as well.  Emmett’s really excited about that and that makes me feel really amazing.

The thing about celebrating birthdays when you’re a special needs family or any family for that matter, who’s struggling, is to maintain focus on what the day is really about.  It’s entirely possible to make someone feel really special on their birthday, even when your wallet is full of vacancies.

While I wish I was in a better position at the moment, that’s not going to stop Lizze and I from making today really special for Emmett.

After his special birthday dinner, we’re going to have a family game night (which is Emmett’s most favorite thing in the world).

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I’m so grateful that Emmett understands and is happy to wait a few days for his birthday present.  He’s pretty indecisive about what he wants anyway and this gives him a few more days to think about what he wants, without feeling pressured.

The reason I’m sharing this is because I know that there are many of you out there in similar situations.

I know first hand that while everything I wrote above is true, there’s always that nagging sense of guilt.  Guilt goes along with struggling financially, especially when it impacts ones children. Being a special needs parent is synonymous with with feeling guilty about all sorts of things, some within your control but mostly about those things outside your control.

You’re not alone and I totally get it.

We have been able to make the best out of today so far and as long as Emmett’s happy, we’re happy. ☺


  1. tannawings

    I will tell you something I have learned over the years….. kids really dont remember ‘things’ so much as the time you spent with them. I mean sure you will remember a bike for Christmas or certain things, but most fade.
    It sounds as if Emmett is happy as is. He is having ‘his’ day with the meal he wants, a movie, and a game night spent with his family.
    You are giving the best gift of all.

  2. Autumn Ryan

    One of the wonderful things about my sweet, non-verbal son-presents don’t mean a lot. Give him a pint of fresh tomatoes and his grin spreads across his face. Jump on the trampoline with him and he will squeal with delight. There’s never any doubt (I think) in his mind that we love him unconditionally, we fight every day for him and will continue to do anything & everything to make his life better! You guys are doing the same and I’m sure your boys think that’s the best gift ever-caring parents! Happy Birthday Emmitt!

    1. Autumn,

      What a blessing. I completely agree with you and I can absolutely relate to that infectious smile. ☺

      Our kids tend to truly appreciate the simple things in life… You’re doing amazing and I hope to hear more about your story… ☺

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