18th Birthday

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This year I celebrate my 18th birthday. I wrote a short speech for my party guests. “I love parties but the love I feel every day trumps any expectations I could have had for my birthday. I am often reminded of my journey and I am still amazed by  my own life.  I would be a very different person without my family, friends and teachers.”  I hope my journey inspires other families and spreads a new awareness of what autism really means.

I (Brooke) also wrote something last night for James’ party. Like any mother my kid’s birthdays are cause for reflection. I’ve shared before that James’ birthdays used to make me really sad. I am so glad that is no longer the case! Communication has made all the difference. I told our friends and family last night that at 18 so much  has changed. Not only can James fully communicate, he is receiving a meaningful and stimulating education, he will graduate high school next year and have a start on an associate’s degree. And the big birthday gift this year is an internship and small summer job. His friend and mentor Lydia arranged an internship at Endependence the non-profit organization where she works. James will get to write for the newsletter and do some shredding. And our favorite neighborhood restaurant Pie-Tanza is giving James the opportunity to work a few hours a week folding pizza boxes and such. We are grateful.



Working at Endependence in the conference room!


And of course despite these wonderful developments in James’ life we still struggle. Autism doesn’t make anything easy and we all get weary of it.  But something else I shared at James’ birthday was a thought by author, Henri Nouwen. He said  “when we hold firm the cups of life, fully acknowledging their sorrows and joys we will be able to lift our cup in human solidarity… we can become a community of people encouraging one another to fully drink the cups that have been given to us in the conviction that they will lead to true fulfillment”.

8 thoughts on “18th Birthday

  1. This was so beautiful and encouraging on so many levels! Thanks for sharing your hearts with us, James and Brooke!

  2. Thanks you two for reminding us to toast with the cups we have no matter how they have been filled. Love you both. Happy birthday James!

  3. So so grateful for your thoughts (both of you) and to see you again recently! God is amazing! Happy Birthday to James and Happy Birthday to Brooke!

    • I continue to see James growing into an amazing young man! Just saw him for a walk around the neighborhood (I was sitting on a rock talking to Zack on the phone and when I said hi to James and told him who I was on the phone with as he went by, he yelled, “Hi Zack!”)….Always a joy!

  4. So thankful that birthdays are now happy times, Brooke! It is hard, and probably always will be. May James’ life continue to have new opportunities and experiences opening up for him — and for you & John as well. You’re amazing parents!!

  5. Summer jobs? Hooray! Having summer employment is an important step into adulthood.

    And how few years ago so many would have thought it impossible for James to hold a summer job?

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