A Special Birthday for My Son with Autism

A Special Birthday for My Son with Autism

My son recently turned sixteen!

A milestone birthday. Sixteen

I wanted this birthday to feel special to my son. It was a milestone after all.

How did we celebrate this milestone birthday with our son?

First, in lieu of having a big party, we had three close friends over to the house. My son played games with these friends and we all ate pizza and chips.

This was done on a Friday, late afternoon to evening.

Second, the next day (a Saturday), we had a family gathering at the home of my parents.

Three birthdays

This was to celebrate my son’s birthday, but also two other birthdays. In the month of February, we have a string of birthdays…My mom, my husband, and my son, three days in a row of birthdays.

Finally, I had to come up with that something special.

What did I do?

I came up with a plan to take my son to do something he really enjoys…visiting the snow. (Yes, living in Southern California means we (most of us) have to “visit” the snow. This winter, my son and I have visited the snow a bunch of times already! It’s been a very wet and (in the mountains) snowy winter.

However, we hadn’t made it to Mount Baldy.

I knew my wanted to go. We had been there once or twice when he was much younger, but hadn’t been back. I always felt the Mount Baldy area got crowded very quickly. There was only one way in and out. And, usually, we had to go to the snow on a weekend.

Ah, but not this time…because my son’s birthday was on a Tuesday!

What happened?

Before initiating my plan, I checked on a key component with my husband.

What was that component?

Taking my son out of school.

My husband wasn’t all that keen on the idea, but he went along with it.

I understood his hesitation.

We had very rarely taken him out of school, and never for anything birthday-related, especially since school became “more serious” (a.k.a. middle school and above).

On the other hand, I figured since it was a Tuesday, it was a “light” school day. We prepared and made sure that my son didn’t have any tests or quizzes. I didn’t want him to miss much. (He didn’t, and what he did miss he made it up the next day.)

I had a plan to make this day special.

How did my plan go?

On his birthday, I sent my son off to school, without telling him my plan (I was going for the surprise). I did tell him to look for a text from me. He was suspicious, but he said “okay.”

I waited until he was in second period and sent my text, “Meet me in the office at snack time.”

I packed my car with all of our usual snow-visiting stuff, plus lunch.

All ready to spend the afternoon visiting the snow, I went to the high school right before snack time. I signed him out and waited for him to show up.

He did a few minutes later.

A nervous turn

Unfortunately, he looked nervous and he said to me, “Is something wrong?”

Poor kid, he thought something might be wrong!

I quickly corrected him and said, “Nothing’s wrong. I’m here to take you to a surprise for your birthday.”

I explained to him that I signed him out and the car was all packed.

My plan was a surprise birthday present, something special.

I tried to not tell him where we were going, but that didn’t last long…By the time we made it to the car, he peeked into the back and saw his sled.

To the mountains

“We’re going to the snow?” he asked.


“Wow, how cool. You’re taking me from school to go to the snow on my birthday?”

“That’s right. And, we’re going to Mount Baldy.”

Boy, was he happy at this point. He was going to Mount Baldy on his birthday. I explained that since it was a Tuesday, I was hoping Mount Baldy wouldn’t be crowded.

How did it go?

Really great. The drive up there went fine. It was a perfect day to visit Mount Baldy. It wasn’t crowded at all. There were a few people, but not too many.

Once we got to the top (the end of the Mount Baldy road), my son and I walked around to check it out.

We discovered the ski lift that takes people to the restaurant at the top of Mount Baldy (I didn’t remember that there was a ski lift and a restaurant.) I offered to take my son up there, but he decided to hold off and do it “the next time we come.”

We found a good sledding place and hung out (sledding, walking around) for a couple of hours.


We finally drove home. 

On the way home, my son thanked me for taking him to Mount Baldy.

I guess I succeeded in making his sixteenth birthday special! It was so worth it.

A Special Birthday for My Son with Autism

Here’s a great story about a child with autism and birthdays:



More on Kimberly Kaplan:

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