Happy Birthday to Our Special (Needs) Daughter

Al, taking a moment to laugh and relax.

Hello everyone,

Today’s post is written by my husband, Al.  He posted this on Facebook a few days ago for our daughter’s birthday.  I made just a few minor edits and added photos.

We received replies that surprised in many ways.  My own reply is at the end of this post.

Thank-you, Al, for your loving words to our precious, funny girl.  – Cathy

Our Mija, expressing herself to her favorite person, her dad.

Our Mija, expressing herself to her favorite person, her dad.

Today is our daughter’s birthday.  She is 17.  As always, it is just another day for her.  Unlike the rest of us, she has no comprehension of birthdays, Christmas, or any other holiday, but she is very happy today because I let her do our same repetitive game over and over and over again, all morning long.

Our daughter celebrated her birthday as she does any other day.  She enjoys looking at her stack of newspaper.

Our daughter celebrated her birthday as she does any other day. She enjoys looking at her stack of newspaper.

I then took her to Target and let her get whatever she wanted.  She chose a Sesame Street Valentine card from the greeting card section and a Sesame coloring book (she does not get it for coloring).  While waiting in the checkout line she picked up a bag of plain M&M’s (she never wants to eat them, she just likes the sound the bag makes when she shakes it).

On the way home I pick up lunch.  When we got home she did the usual, she threw away the M&M’s, card and book into our garbage can outside.

I gave her half a sandwich. I had to cut it into small pieces since she doesn’t know how to bite, a little bit of fries, and apple slices. I also cut up the apple.

At an occupational therapy appointment for feeding.

At an occupational therapy appointment for feeding.

She finished eating, put her dish in the sink, came to me and got my hand (that’s how she tells me she wants something) and took me upstairs to her room.  Whenever she wants to go to sleep, one of us has to go with her and put her to bed.  She kissed me and then laughs as she gets under her comforter.

I look at my watch as I walk out of her room (it’s 2:00pm CST).  Greeeat, she’ll probably sleep for 3 hours and be up late tonight, but so what, it’s her birthday.

Cathy's two favorite people relax at a classroom Thanksgiving luncheon.

Cathy’s two favorite people relax at a classroom Thanksgiving luncheon.

We have to deal with a lot of medical and legal issues (TOO MANY TO LIST WITHOUT EXPLANATION) for her this year.  Our daughter will be a legal adult in a year, yet still severely and low functioning autistic, and disabled for speech delay.  She is very much still a child in behavior and she can’t communicate verbally.  The most important issue will be starting the long legal process of gaining Guardianship when she turns 18.  Unless she makes some drastic advancements, our daughter will be living with us the rest of her adult life.

Yes, she is wearing the same hat that is in the birthday picture.  It's now faded and worn, but still her favorite!

Yes, she is wearing the same hat that is in the birthday picture. It’s now faded and worn, but still her favorite!

Cathy and I give her the gift of love everyday.  So it is important to us to give this gift of Guardianship on her 18th birthday, whether she understands this or not, because to us we are giving her a gift of devotion.

Happy Birthday Mija, we love you, Mom & Dad.

Cathy and Al, just enjoying themselves.

Cathy and Al, just enjoying themselves.

My reply to all the responses Al received:

I was a bit out of commission yesterday but am feeling better today, thus my late response.

Thank-you to all for your comments. Statements like this are often surprising to us because what Al expressed is just a typical day for us.

Al and I are ordinary folks. We have a special daughter.  I call her the pure of heart because she simply is who she it. No pretense. If she’s happy you will know it. If she’s not happy, you will know it.

Riding lesson.  She is riding Cowboy, led by his owner, Tricia.  Al and Cathy walk behind, while Tricia's dog Stella keeps a steady pace running alongside Cowboy.

Riding lesson. She is riding Cowboy, led by his owner, Tricia. Al and Cathy walk behind, while Tricia’s dog Stella keeps a steady pace running alongside Cowboy.

She will teach you to immediately live in the moment.

For many years our daughter would not make eye contact with anyone.  As she and her father are close, he is one of the few people with whom she directly interacts.

For many years our daughter would not make eye contact with anyone. As she and her father are close, he is one of the few people with whom she directly interacts.

Al and I believe the most important thing we can do for our daughter is to love her, be her advocate and be her voice.

It’s also important that we support each other in whatever way we can. We always look out for one another. Even though life can be stressful, we try to laugh whenever we can. Those of you who know us know there is much laughter in our home.

While Mija gets ready to enjoy a snack, Cathy starts to arrange flowers from Al.

While Mija gets ready to enjoy a snack, Cathy starts to arrange flowers from Al.

That being said, we’re also realistic, practical people. Always have been. We chuckle when we see the simplicity of what makes our daughter happy vs. other people her age. i. e. think gadgets, electronics and other trappings.

Swimming is a favoirte activity!

Swimming is a favoirte activity!

We have other challenges to deal with because of her limitations. That being said, there is no limit to the love that she can express. She is an incredible person and we are grateful she is ours.

…and yes, she is a blessing. We know that. Every day.
Thanks, again.


Getting ready to ride.  Mija leads Al and Cowboy.

Getting ready to ride. Mija leads Al and Cowboy.

forpeace6Peace happens on all scales and in many places…including a happy, laughter-filled home.   

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I've always enjoyed writing and finally decided it was time to blog! As part of my profession I write every day, but I'm now trying to take the time to write creatively. My family and friends have been very encouraging as there is little that is written down in the way of a family chronicle. This is a favorite topic of mine! In addition to family history, I write about life, family, friends and faith. My husband is a full-time parent to our special needs daughter. I’ve explored this topic, too. I also enjoy music, crocheting, reading and relaxing with my family. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer!

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Posted in 2013, Autism, B4Peace, Family, Peaceful, Special Needs, Thoughts, Uncategorized
43 comments on “Happy Birthday to Our Special (Needs) Daughter
  1. Just as you feel lucky to be her parents, she is so fortunate to have you both. Happy Birthday to Mija!

  2. scrapydo says:

    This leaves a lump in my throat. The three of you are very special to each other and the world.

  3. cobbies69 says:

    Your love as a family is so visible and a great share. You most be so proud..may 2013 bring you and your family all that you wish for…;)

    • Cathy G says:

      Hi Gerry. I appreciate your observation – my family is my pride and joy! Thank-you so much for the New Year wishes. 2013 will be a busy, challenging, and I also hope rewarding year for us!

  4. fgassette says:

    A threefold cord is not quickly broken. The meaning is that there is strength in numbers, and if two are better than one, then three are even better. The three of you in this amazing loving relationship is an inspiration to us all. Happy Birthday Mija.


    • Cathy G says:

      Thank-you, Francine for a beautiful sentiment. We are a real trio, and yes, the basis of our relationship is love. That’s not meant to sound cliche…it’s just who we are!

  5. Mija is purely beautiful :-(.
    A fabulous love-filled new year to all of you. *Gem*

    • That was suppose to be a smile – ugh – fat fingers!

      • Cathy G says:

        No worries, Gemma! I’ve done that plenty of times! 😀

        Not that I have any personal bias or anything like that…(LOL)…but I do believe she’s beautiful. I’m privileged to be able to see this is the manner that she projects. It’ll be a busy year but we’ll get through it all one step at a time. Thanks!

  6. seapunk2 says:

    As I began to read, I wondered if she has autism. My niece (now nephew, and that’s another story) was diagnosed with autism, though high functioning. He’s graduating from a four year university. I think your child is a doll. It’s clear to me that there is no better thing to do than to be her advocate. Good for you. Proud of you.

    • Cathy G says:

      Hello seapunk2. Yes, my daughter is autistic. In addition, she has a severe speech delay. She is considered vocal but not verbal as her vocabulary is extremely limited. My sincerest congratulations to your nephew! I’m always happy to hear of people on the autism spectrum who have achievements in the face of challenge. It’s never easy as autism is so complex.
      My husband deserves much credit as he is a full-time parent. He carries so much, and I don’t have the words to fully express my gratitude.
      Our daughter has her ups and downs; she can challenge us like any other child! ..and yes, she is also a joy. I’m glad Al and I were able to express this.

  7. creative pixie says:

    Hapy birthday Mija! From these photos it is obvious there is so much love between you all.God bless you.

  8. Iñigo says:

    The sweetest parents to a sweet daughter! Such an inspiration 🙂
    Happy birthday, Mija!

  9. Northern Narratives says:

    The three of you are truly a beautiful family. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Cathy G says:

      Hi Judy! We are definitely a threesome! Credit goes to my husband for the post. I’m glad it came through that he wrote from his heart. Thanks so much!

  10. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

    Cathy that is a beautiful article that went to straight to my heart – you have a very special husband and precious daughter. I see that it may have been her birthday but it was you two who got the gift! You have a lovely family – the picture of Al and her side by side is heartwarming. I know she may not understand but I send your daughter my birthday wishes and God’s blessings to her.

    • Cathy G says:

      Hi Patty. Thank-you for such a lovely reply! She is a gift and we’re fortunate to have her. I had fun looking at a lot of photos when I was preparing this post. It’s nice to see some progress over the years. This can really be seen in her expressions. Thanks, again!

  11. Happy Birthday, Mija!

    • Cathy G says:

      Thank-you so much, Ray!!! I’ll play this for her tomorrow – it’s late here so she’s already asleep. It definitely put a smile on my face! 🙂

  12. Sheryl says:

    What a lovely birthday post. You have a wonderful family.

  13. seekraz says:

    Breaking my heart this morning…sadness, happiness…such sweetness…my kind of people…. You’re always thanking me for my photos, sharing images of the natural world around me…thank YOU, Cathy (and Al) for this glimpse into your meaningful life…precious….

    • Cathy G says:

      Hello Scott, I saw your comment early this morning, but due to “stuff like work” I haven’t been able to comment until now. Your comment stayed with me today because it was so heartfelt. Al also saw your comment and asked if I saw it. I said, “Oh yes. I had…”
      I won’t say our lives are perfect. As you can imagine since we have a family member with numerous limits, it is far from that. Still, we’ve learned a lot over the years to roll with the ups and downs that occur.
      I’ve learned we all have limits. All of us. Some days it seems you’re on the ground looking up at a big hill…and it’s not always easy to climb. Still, the three of us do this together. We’ve met many incredible people along the way. …and we’ve learned to recognize and celebrate small victories whenever they occur.
      Many people have family members with special needs. Like us, these families have many struggles. They are also in need of support. I’m glad that my post can allow a peak into a world that many people don’t often see. I wrote this under the tag B4PEACE so it would show as part of Bloggers for Peace. In addition to showing an example of peace within a family, I also want people to realize (at large) that one of the elements of a peaceful environment is tolerance…and special needs individuals can teach us so much about this.
      Well, I hope you can see that your reply was very moving. For a moment I was breathless.
      I feel privileged to share this post with my husband. We joke around A LOT…but I’m glad we could also show this part of ourselves.
      Thanks so much once again – Cathy …and wouldn’t you know it? I can barely hear anything right now because my two partners in crime are in the midst of a fit of laughter! 🙂

      • seekraz says:

        You are very welcome, truly, for the heartfelt comment…I hear anecdotes nearly on a daily basis about my wife’s patients (she’s a psychologist who works almost exclusively with ASD kids and adults), so I’m very familiar with situations like yours…but to actually read the words and see the images of people who are part of my world (this world here, of us blogging friends) was incredibly moving, touching my heart, and making me feel those things that I shared with you…it was a privilege for me to be allowed the glimpse into your lives…. My thanks to you, Cathy…and Al…and your Little One….

      • Cathy G says:

        It’s my pleasure, Scott. I don’t normally write in this month depth about my immediate family. That being said I can tell I still have much to say. These comments are likely to spawn at least one or two more posts Thanks! 🙂

      • seekraz says:

        I wish you and your family the best, Cathy, always. 🙂

  14. I have worked as a caregiver with autistic persons and my wife’s grandson is low-functioning autistic – I Love how you are with your beautiful daughter. Yes, Instant Present Moment all the time. Thanks for this post!


    • Cathy G says:

      Hello Tomas. Yes, the comment about the present captures much! Every autistic person is unique. I’m sure you realize what I’m stating is that each has his or her own challenges. I imagine your family has also had its share of ups and downs with your wife’s grandson. Thank-you for seeing and recognizing that uniqueness within our daughter, as you have done with people who were in your care.

  15. A delayed but heart felt HAPPY BIRTHDAY! ♪ ♫ ♪ Blessings to each of you♥ paula

  16. Kozo says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post the first time round. I’m so happy you posted the sequel, so I could be directed to this wonderful glimpse into your loving household. Al is obviously an amazing father. And Mija is a gift to you and your husband, but also to everyone she touches including us readers of your blog. Thank you so much for sharing. Love, Kozo

    • Cathy G says:

      No worries, Kozo! We are grateful for our daughter every day. Al and I are truly partners in all we do. I am amazed and humbled when I learn that she has touched others simply by being who she is. She is an incredible teacher. Thanks so much!

  17. […] Inspiring Blogger Award goes to Cathy at Comments from Cathy. Cathy, her husband Al, and their special needs daughter Mija will change your view on life. love, […]

  18. Biltrix says:

    Happy (belated) Birthday, Mija!

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