Celebrating Milestones: When the little things are actually BIG things

Parents of children with special needs have learned to celebrate accomplishments. What may seem insignificant or commonplace to the parents of Neurotypical children can feel MONUMENTAL to the parent of a child who has had to fight to reach every milestone.

I remember attending a party at my son’s preschool many years ago and suddenly bursting into tears while talking to his Exceptional Education teacher. It taught her completely by surprise, so she looked to see what caught my attention. Across the room my 3-year-old son was bringing a forkful of cake to his lips. You see, he had not TOUCHED cake since his 1st birthday, and even then he barely ate it. My son is an incredibly picky eater due to his sensory issues and anxiety, and it normally takes a lot of therapy for him to try a new food (and it usually involves some kind of gagging). But there he was, happily eating cake, and I was overwhelmed. I didn’t care if it was CAKE, he was EATING it. So I stood there, speechless, hand across my mouth, and I did the ugly cry right there in the preschool classroom. His teacher laughed and gave me a sideways hug.

My friend Jessica recently posted this picture following her son’s 7th birthday celebration, and the contents are cause for celebration all on their own:


She wrote: “Celebrated my little baby tonight who is now a 7 year old warrior. When we got home, he rushed in the door to put his trucks to sleep, complete with play-doh sleep masks. Lol, but SAID “goodnight” to each truck as he “tucked” them in. Pretend play for the win!!! Surprising us everyday!!”

LOVE this! The trucks are lovingly lined up (maybe because Autism, or maybe simply because it is a parking lot) and the “sleep masks” are genius. Children with Autism often have to work to develop the skills to engage in “pretend play,” so this is a BIG DEAL. Jessica knows it, and couldn’t be more proud of her creative, growing son.

Great job, little man, and Happy Birthday! I think this celebration calls for some cake! I’m sure my son would agree. 🙂

What milestones or achievements have you celebrated recently with your child? We would love to hear all about it in the comments so we can celebrate with you! 


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2 thoughts on “Celebrating Milestones: When the little things are actually BIG things

  1. Full Spectrum Mama February 19, 2015 / 9:09 AM

    So much time spent wondering why my child didn’t do what the other kids did…took me awhile to realize what you’ve expressed here. I am glad you are realizing early on! celebrate Every kid at their own pace in their own way!!!! And yes, cake!


    • That happened a while ago, so I have the luxury of hindsight. Of course I still have moments where I get sad or frustrated and long for more “normal” (whatever that is). I think it is human nature. But clinging to these “cake” moments gets me through.


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