Without noticing it, four years have passed since Charlie decided to make his grand entrance into the world. Four entire years. Birthdays are always a little bitter-sweet with a special needs child–knowing where they should be and comparing it with where they are can be a tough pill to swallow. I’m lucky that this year it was easier than the last and I suspect that it will get easier as the years pass.

I can say, without a doubt, that three was the best year yet. So many times I have exclaimed over what a person he’s become and how it is truly enjoyable to spend time with him. School has been incredible at opening him up and letting his personality show itself–granted, it’s not always the cutest personality, but even that is worth celebrating.

cupcake with horse decoration

Three was the year of communication. He gestures more purposefully, uses his eyes and vocal chords to make a point, he taps to get your attention and motions for help.  He is beginning to show signs of being able to communicate using augmentative communication–a door has been cracked and is waiting to be flung open.


Three was a year of affection. When I pick him up from school, he smiles wide. He leans towards others to be held by them. He smiles when you kiss him and throws a hand over you when he snuggles up in bed. He gestures to be picked up when Dad greets him in the evenings.

Three was a year of becoming his own person–he likes ketchup, which no one else in the family eats. He has friends at school that I don’t know and have never met. He manages himself in the world without his mom or dad for hours on end. He likes to turn the TV up loud and if you turn it down, he’ll wait til you leave and then turn it up again. He likes to hold his own spoon or fork although he’s still not good at getting food ON it in the first place.

The baby in him is slowly fading and I adore watching the real him emerge. There really is nothing more amazing than seeing the boy who was locked in his body beginning to emerge.

Do we have things yet to accomplish? Of course. Is it all perfect? Not at all.

But it is good. Very good. And that is more than enough for me.

Happy birthday, Charlie.

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  1. Sounds like 3 was really good so I’m guessing 4 is going to be even better. Happy Birthday to your darling boy. Loved watching the video!

    And p.s. shouldn’t your shirt say “babies”? ;-P

    • It should. I’m down to hand-me-down maternity clothes because I’ve out-grown pretty much everything that’s mine–no surprise as I was measuring 40 weeks at my appointment yesterday.

  2. happy birthday charlie! we’re going to be on the NS this weekend, will let you know if we decide to head to the park. :)

  3. The child is brilliant! Thanks to yours and Andre’s hard work. Yeah, Charlie! It will be exciting to see what he thinks of being a big brother.

    • I’m pretty sure he’ll have nothing good to say about being a big brother–but we’ll figure it all out eventually!

  4. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Charlie!

  5. Happy birthday Charlie!!!

  6. Happy Birthday Charlie!

  7. I really enjoyed the video. You know… I don’t think my girl at 3 could read the name of a colour. Actually….. she had a problem just identifying colours which we thought was really bizarre. It is so neat to watch Charlie pick out the right colour.

    • He really likes colors, which is why we started with that for his reading and other activities. I think if I’d started with something else, he might not have been as successful.

  8. Happy Birthday Charlie! Love the video and the pics! Charlie is doing amazing things. Hope you have a great time celebrating. : )

    • Charlie had a lovely time celebrating–of course, his idea of celebrating is not too much noise or too many people and ice cubes. Oh well, it’s his day!

  9. Oh my gosh–4?!! These pictures and videos are so great. Happy Birthday Charlie!

    • It’s amazing how fast it goes, right? Oddly, I can still remember that you didn’t have a computer when Charlie was born because you sent a mass email letting everyone know and I remember reading it in the hospital computer lab.

  10. Happy Birthday, Charlie!!!

    He doesn’t just know the color, he can read the word. That’s amazing for any 3 or 4 year old! I have no doubt that he’s a very bright boy!

    • Well, Lindy, I’m not an expert at early childhood, but I am proud of what he’s doing. Learning these things will help him communicate better with the world around him.

  11. Happy Birthday Charlie!!! I love that baby boy!!

    And his momma!! I saw you grit your teeth and talk to Daddy!! too funny!!

    • I was gritting my teeth because i thought I had messed up! But I didn’t want Charlie to see my face change–stay positive! You are very observant.

  12. Happy Birthday Charlie! 4 is going to be a great year!

  13. Happy birthday, Charlie! Wow, that is great that he can read color names. He is closer to Phia’s age than I thought (she turned four in March). Does he just have one more year of preschool, then? The cupcakes are super cute!

    • Well, in our district, they typically “red shirt” children who are in special education and have them start Kindergarten at age six. We’ll have to see how much Charlie picks up over the next year before we make that kind of decision.

  14. Happy Birthday, Charlie!! Three was a good year, but I bet 4 will be even better!!!

  15. Oh wow four years! It doesn’t seem that long… I will say wow again.
    What a great year 3 was … just know that 4 willbe better
    Happy Birthday Charlie and Happy Mommiversary to you!

  16. Happy Birthday Charlie! You’re going to be such a good big brother soon!

  17. Happy birthday to Charlie!

  18. Happy birthday, Charlie! It’s been a pleasure to watch you grow and learn!

  19. This post makes my heart happy! He has come a long way, baby! And so have you and your husband. It’s great to see how you all interact and it’s great that you’re all involved in learning. You’ve had such an adventure these last four years–can’t wait to read all about your next adventure!!!

    • Let’s just pray that my next adventure involves fewer visits to the doctor! It will be fun to work with the twins and see what types of things they can learn–a whole new ball game.

  20. Love, love, love.

    That is awesome he can sight read words!!!! At such a young age, too. Plenty of typically-developing four year olds can’t do that.

    The amazing thing is, just when you think they’ve had the best year, they have an even BETTER next year. I can’t wait to see what four is like for Charlie. Hopefully, you can teach him to babysit in the near future. He, he.

    • I really need to get on that, right?

      I basically felt like I HAD to start teaching him sight words or we would never figure out what was going on in that head of his–I’m glad he’s picking things up pretty quick.

  21. Happy Birthday Charlie!

  22. Cheers to Charlie! Happy Birthday, Little Fella’!

  23. I loved seeing this video. Charlie seems to reach much more directly now for the thing he wants, at least compared to the last video I watched!

    I’m a gen. ed. elementary teacher, and I love seeing how you adapt the same skills to being taught and assessed in a way that Charlie will do and do well at. You really know him and the things he likes and doesn’t like and it makes you able to teach him more. Reading the different techniques you do and the different adjustments you make when something isn’t going to work as well for Charlie helps remind me to consider those same things for some of my students.

    I cannot believe I’ve been following your blog over 4 years! That’s crazy. I hope Charlie grows up to realize just how blessed he has been to have an amazing mother who not only cares, but has or finds the knowledge to teach him even when there are extra challenges. I bet having some little brothers will help motivate him to do even more before he turns 5!

    P.S.- Do you use on the iPad? It might be too early right now but it’s a GREAT site!

    • Lots of people have recommended Star Fall, but I haven’t checked it out yet. Need to remedy yet.

      I’m not sure if he’s reaching better or if it’s positioning–I will have to look into that. In the high chair, the tray is in the way, in Dad’s lap there’s nothing blocking the movement. Great observation.

      And I do think adapting is the most challenging, but most interesting part–I sit with a standard in front of me and try to figure out how it can be adapted to Charlie’s abilities. Fantastic when it works.

  24. I hate that we missed it this year! Hope to see you soon and celebrate the twins and Charlie being 4. We love you, Monnots!

  25. That’s wonderful..happy birthday to him! It’s so exciting to see progress, isn’t it? I hope you guys have a *great* age 4. Enjoy

  26. Rebecca says:

    Happy Birthday to your spunky little boy! I’m a new reader of your blog (thanks to Amy at When Did I get Like This!) As a mom of an almost-7-(GASP!)-year old child on the spectrum (and 20-month old twins too), your posts bring back so many memories of that age – and, this one in particular, the elation of those first glimpses of the real, little human inside of the diagnosis! Those were difficult and beautiful times. There were still more hard days than easy ones, but our kids grow every single day and they *will* get to where they are supposed to be. :)

  27. Love this! Happy Birthday Charlie!

  28. Awww. Happy Birthday Charlie!

  29. Happy Birthday big man Charlie!

  30. Gratittude is such a beautiful thing. Happy birthday to the little man and way to go to mom and dad for hitting year four opening all the doors to your child’s happiness. Aaahh those smiles just melt our hearts :)

  31. Oh Katy! He is doing so wonderfully – sight words?? You are an awesom teacher as well as an awesome mom. Happy day, Charlie, you little man, you!

  32. Could you help me with my spelling/editing?

  33. Happiest of birthdays Charlie! May Four be twice as good as Three was to you and your family!