Making Birthdays Memorable for Every Special Needs Child


Making Birthdays MemorableEvery year, as a mom of a special needs child, when my son’s birthday comes around, the anxiety kicks in. My son loves birthday parties, even though he doesn’t get invited to many. He loves celebrating with other kids, and he loves being celebrated as well.  We have been very fortunate because my son’s classmates and parents are so supportive and accepting of him. They do come to celebrate his birthday!

My Favorite Memorable Birthday

I recently sat by a gentleman in his 70s, and he told me his favorite birthday party memory. He was maybe 6 years old, and what did he remember most? He remembered the kids and family that were at his party. The memories of the exact details weren’t there. Still, he remembered what it felt like to be celebrated, to have everyone there for him.

I Cried on my Son’s Birthday

I cried tears of gratitude because 24 of my son’s friends showed up to celebrate him and his birthday. I cried that night when I got home as I read a post in an online community of a mother who had invited her daughter’s class to her birthday party, and no one RSVP’d, and no one showed. My heart ached just as much for that child and parent as I had felt so much gratitude earlier in the day at my son’s party.

I’ve started counting how many of these posts I see now. The average is 3-5 posts a week of parents saddened, explaining to their children why no one is coming to their party. Honestly, I can’t imagine trying to explain this to a child. I hear how parents have given up even having a “friend” party for their child because they don’t want to go through that again. I can completely understand why. How do you explain to a child that no one is coming to their party?

It Maybe Harder on the Parents

A child may understand what is going on; they may process it, and if they can, or it may create a lifelong memory they would rather forget. Other times, they may not be able to grasp the situation fully. What does happen 100% of the time is a message that is silently sent to that child’s parents. Try for just a moment to put yourself in their shoes. The message is received loud and clear because no one cares enough to come to their birthday party. Parents are left wondering: Is my child liked? Are they appreciated and valued? Who cares about my child? Imagine how difficult your child is excited about his or her birthday party, and no one comes?

My Plea, My Hope, My Wish

Each time your child gets a birthday party invite, please RSVP. Let them know your child would love to come or apologize that you won’t make it. And if your child can go, by all means, take them to the party! Think back to that favorite birthday party of your own and help another child create a happy memorable birthday that will last a lifetime.