This is James on his birthday last year:

September 4th 2012

And this is James this year, taken on his first day of kindergarten a couple weeks ago:

August 2013 189

I wanted to take him for another birthday photo shoot today and list his favorite things, but they are all the same. Even things I didn’t put on there are still the same, like his favorite book (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and his favorite food (cheese pizza).

It feels like autism makes time slow down. I have a six-year-old who is more like a two-year-old. He’s steady and consistent, to the point of predictability (and sometimes exhaustion). A calendar year does not bring a full year of growth or development.

This slow-down of time makes me slow down, too. It forces me to look at details instead of the big picture. I can’t see the leaps and bounds of change, but I can see differences. Like,

  • He’s not fully potty trained, but he is using the potty each day.
  • He keeps his clothes on at night and doesn’t have to wear overalls backwards, with the straps criss-crossed and safety pinned.
  • He can’t always tell us the exact words for what he wants, but he is being more descriptive (like asking for “green chips” for the chips in the green bag instead of the chips in the blue bag).
  • He looks at the camera and smiles when we’re taking his picture (which is every day around here!).
  • He doesn’t sit in a highchair when we go out to eat anymore, but sits with us in a booth.
  • He walks with us instead of riding in the stroller when we take our family walks around the neighborhood.
  • He makes us laugh, on purpose. He does things/says things he knows we think are funny to make us laugh.
  • He interacts more with David.
  • He uses a big swing instead of a baby swing now.

September 2013

Even though I have to look closer and think  harder about his development over the last year, it makes me even more thankful for the changes we see in him. We are blessed to have him in our lives, watching him change and allowing God to change us through him.

Happy birthday to my six-year-old boy! May your day be filled with all your favorites—strawberry slushes, puzzles, tickles, playing outside, and Blue’s Clues).

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