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By Cathy Jameson

Ronan’s birthday is today.  He’s twelve.

Happy birthday, Ronan. 


Ronan’s birthday comes with mixed emotions.  The mixed emotions are mine, not his. 

Each year around this time, I expect to turn off some of my emotions.  Each year I fail to do that.  Birthdays should be happy occasions.  But my soon-to-be 12-year old is oblivious as to what a birthday means.  Yes, he’s aware of the excitement that some of today will bring, but he won’t know to be excited until his siblings start talking about cake.  Whenever they talk about cake, Ronan’s ears perk up.  He loves cake so much that it was one of the first words Ronan wrote  independently. 

Beyond the cake, beyond the eating something yummy, the other parts of the birthday celebration—the presents, the party, the turning a year old—don’t interest Ronan.  

For many, birthdays are a big deal.  They celebrate being a year older.  A year wiser.  A year closer to independence. 


Not when you’re a prone to wandering and a diaper wearing, unable to speak for himself, dress himself, bathe himself or feed himself 12-year old. 

While I expect that he might be more verbal, more typical or slightly more aware each December 21st, I see that Ronan is not.  My other children, including my youngest, have zoomed quickly past Ronan’s current development.  They continue to accomplish skill after skill after skill.  They do that while I wait and hope and pray that Ronan will one day accomplish what they can do so easily.  I don’t ever put pressure on Ronan about those delays or about catching up.  But I don’t do myself any favors by dwelling on them, especially dwelling on them on today. 

The expectations I had for Ronan when he was a baby are far different than the reality that he’s living now.  The expectations I had may be different, but they will never get in the way of the support I give Ronan.  That’s why I will to keep my emotions in check today.  I will do that because today is Ronan’s birthday.  It’s his birthday, and it is time to celebrate.  It is time to be happy.  It is time to make a wish and to believe that it will come true. 

Our family has given Ronan twelve years of love, of opportunity, of happiness and of hope.  We’ve promise to keep showering him with endless amounts of love, to provide as many opportunities of happiness for him, and to be as hopeful and helpful for him as we can.  We promise to do that now, and for the next twelve years, and for as many years afterwards as we can. 


As I reflect on the last twelve years, and as I anticipate the next twelve, if there is anything I need to remember today, I will let it be this: 

He is here.  He is alive.  And he is beautiful. 

Ronan, our first-born son, whose birth was greatly anticipated, whose entire family welcomed him with open arms, whose parents continue to be inspired by him, whose siblings watch over him without hesitation, whose life is full of worth and of purpose, is turning twelve today.  Happy birthday, Ronan.  Happiest of birthdays to you. 

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.



Happy Birthday Ronan! Our son turned 12 this month also. He is so similar to your Ronan. So frustrating. We all thought they would be so much further along by now in their recovery. I am so glad Ronan has brothers and sisters who love him and can celebrate with him. We made the mistake of not having any more, so now not only is he delayed and challenged every day - he is mostly alone except for us. Many blessings to all of you.

brent remington

Bless you Ronan may you continue to receive the support you need in life.


Happy Birthday to a patient, strong, dear, and handsome boy. I pray that you are unbound and that your solution to restoring health, your voice and your road to independence will be uncovered soon. You are specifically always in my prayers. God bless and thanks for your mom for she is like no other. I hope your cake was fantastic!


My son is 13. He has never had a birthday cake. He has no idea what birthdays are. It hurts. It hurts badly. So badly that it is hard to breathe sometimes. And he is our only child... At least, you have a chance to be a mother to your other children, celebrate their birthdays, and celebrate Ronan's birthday with them.
Happy Birthday, Ronan!


Cathy, May you be blessed this day. May you give yourself a hug as well as Ronan, and have peace that you have given him the greatest gift you can - your unfailing love and support. I am so sorry that vaccines have created situations that never should have been. I am amazed and awed by parents like you who show the world what genuine love is, when it is not easy, when you are overwhelmed with sadness from the 'what-if's' and when you are discouraged by seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for accepting the challenge, and facing it with courage and spunk. May your family take great comfort from knowing you have hung in there when life threw some really tough stuff your way, and that you are an inspiration to others to do the same. My hat is sincerely off to you.

The Wessels

Happy, happy birthday, Ronan!! With much love from the Wessels. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Teresa Conrick

Happy Birthday, Ronan! I can so identify, Cat.


Jennifer Cording

Happy birthday, Ronan. The best to you and your family. Jennifer and Gunnar


Happy Birthday Ronan!


Thanks Cathy, our son is also 12.

At some of his school events, we sometimes see a blind girl walking with a white cane.

They all will need prayers for years.

John Stone

Happy birthday Ronan!

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