Holden turned 4 today. Wow, I still can't believe it. 2 years ago, this week, we received the diagnosis of PDD-NOS (autism). I remember it like yesterday. I wrote a whole post about remembering that week, and the weeks prior - when we realized what was going on with him. But, I decided to delete it. I won't focus on the past anymore, but rather look forward to the future. So, this is going to be a post about positive things! About how far he's come and how far he WILL go.

I was thinking this morning, after I gave Holden a cupcake (GFCF, of course) for breakfast that I honestly could not remember his 3rd birthday. I know, I know, it's horrible. But, it's true. I remember thinking when he turned 3 that I had no idea who my son was. I didn't know his likes, or dislikes. I don't know if I even bought him a gift - although, I suspect I did. I just can't remember what it was, or if he liked it. He was so incredibly lost just 1 year ago. I think I spent most of his 3rd birthday crying, to be honest.

About a week leading up to this birthday, I started having a bit of panic. I didn't want another birthday to go by and him not understand. Or, for me not to know what to do to make his day "special". I decided to just go with it and I planned a little birthday celebration with his class at school and his teacher was all for it. So, yesterday I took in cupcakes and a few goodies for his classmates (who are also all autistic) and Jackson and I went in to celebrate with him at school. His teachers were there and also his speech therapist. I remember she said to me "everyone loves Holden here - he's such a special little boy!" And I honestly felt like she meant it. Holden LOVED everyone singing Happy Birthday to him. He even tried to sing along, and got the biggest smile when we all clapped afterwards. It was almost as if he realized ... HEY, this is for me!! Afterwards, they had planned an egg hunt and I thought to myself ... this should be fun. I'm sure he won't "get it". I know, optimistic of me, huh?! But, we went outside and I showed him an egg on the ground and told him to pick it up and put it in his bag. He did! And then, he looked around and saw more. He picked up the rest all on his own and had so much fun doing it. I was so proud of him.

This morning, he had cupcakes for breakfast. He got a tricycle-type bike to ride and loved it. I think he really loved the noises, lights, and all the buttons, but still - he liked it! He and Jackson PLAYED this morning, too. They were chasing each other and although it only lasted for about 5 minutes ... they played. Together. And they were both laughing. Together. We then took him to lunch at a Gluten-free restaurant. He actually ate the food, which surprised me. He's a bit picky, or so I thought. But, apparently I was wrong, he tried a few things and seemed to not have any trouble with it! Then, we all had yet another cupcake to celebrate his day.

Then, off to the Wiggly Play Center. I was a little concerned about taking him there, too. Would the other kids freak him out? Would the noise bother him? Would he just do "stimmy walks" around the place and touch the walls? The last time we took him to a place like this, he had absolutely NO interest. That was about 8 months ago. Well, I'm happy to report he loved it! He had a blast (and so did Jackson). He didn't play with other kids, but then again, none of the other kids were playing with other kids either! He went through all the tunnels, bouncy houses, and slides. We bought him a Wiggles hat and shirt and left for home.

He was beat after today. He's now in bed, sleeping like a baby...but, a baby who just turned 4. Some words and phrases I heard from him today:

"Jackson, NO!"
"Happy birthday"
"More cards" (for his language builder cards)
"pee pee in the potty"
"I love you"

There were probably more, and I just realized while typing this that I don't know if I can even keep count of his words and phrases anymore! Which is soooo exciting. This time last year, I didn't know if he would ever say a word, to be honest. Although, most people can't understand what he's saying ... I can. And I know he's talking and I know he's trying to say more. I also know what he likes. He loves the Wiggles, Little Einsteins, his language builder cards, balls, slides, his new trike, beads, puzzles, being outside, hugs, kisses, tickles...and the list goes on. I know my kid. I know who he is now, and although it's taken 2 long years to get to this point, it's so worth it now.

He has come so far in the past year and I am so very proud of him. I know he works incredibly hard, for such simple things that come easily to other 4 year olds. I also know that the next year will bring many more UPs...and also a few downs. But, I am committed to his recovery and I will not let him down. We're healing his body, one day at at time.

So, happy birthday beautiful boy! We love you more than words can say. A few pictures from his special (2) days!

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