Happy Birthday, Ethan! Nineteen years old, Amazing! Looking back at how far you've come makes us proud and hopeful for your future.
It's been a journey of love and one that isn't over yet. We will continue to travel it with you, hope with you and learn with you. Your journey has been a navigation through confusion, frustration, denial, acceptance, perseverance, and patience, all sewn together with a strong thread of love. Autism is not an easy label to carry. We've watched you struggle, fail, refuse, and then, try and try again. "Try" is a small word with a BIG meaning.
Watching you shake someone's hand when you first meet them, look them in the eye and say, "Hi", seems a simple, uncomplicated task. But, not for you. We know how far you've come, and we know how much focus, energy and effort you've invested into doing that "simple" gesture. And you keep TRYing.
Understanding the nuances of human expression can be daunting for anyone, and especially difficult for you. You ask questions, "Mom, is that person acting mad or sad?", "Dad, what did that person mean when they said that?". We hope you never lose that ability to ask questions, you will need that skill all of your life, and the skill to keep TRYing.
You've also found that people don't always understand you. You've encountered those who judge you or refuse to accept your differences, and you've been hurt, that is an unfortunate part of life, but you keep TRYing.
You haven't progressed through the developmental milestones in a way that the doctors view as "normal", and you may never reach all of these milestones, and sometimes this confuses you. You struggle with learning disabilities and this frustrates you, but you keep TRYing. That is what we want, hope and dream for you.....that you keep TRYing.
Just for a day, dear reader, won't you patiently wait in that slow line at the grocery store while someone counts out change to pay? That person may be learning a great life skill. Will you take time to really listen to someone who wants to share with you although they may be difficult to understand? That person may have something really interesting to say. And won't you allow a little extra room in your life for someone who is TRYing?
Happy Birthday to our sweet boy, hugs and love from your parents who will keep TRYing too.
For his birthday, Ethan took a flying lesson. A very nice pilot named Bill took Ethan up in his two-seater and let him taxi around the runway, and steer the airplane once they were in the air. Ethan enjoyed himself while Dad and little brother tried to distract Mom who waited nervously on the ground! :)
Here are some photos of our day at the airport:
One last wave "good-bye".....
I sure hope Bill was flying the airplane while this photo was taken!
Thanks Bill for a great ride and an adventure Ethan will never forget!.....and for bringing my child safely down to the ground again! :)
Happy Birthday Ethan!