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National Autism Association Toolkit For Turning 18

To You

Happy 21By Cathy Jameson

One Easter Sunday many years ago, the weather was still chilly enough to light a fire in our outdoor fire pit and make s’mores.  The kids helped gather small sticks to burn as I began the clean up from dinner.  I didn’t get too much done before I heard the kids calling for me, “Mommy!  Mommy!  You’re going to miss lighting the fire!”  My husband makes a Swedish candle with the children watching safely from a distance.  Not wanting me to miss the lighting of it, I stopped what I was doing and went outside.  Ronan didn’t want to join us yet, so he stayed inside with his movie.  I’m glad I didn’t miss the early evening fire.  It was a beautiful sight, and it made for a great memory. Cj fire

Something even more memorable happened that evening.  Ronan got a hold of one of the drinks that had been left out after dinner.  Thankfully it was only the last few sips.  But still.  When we discovered what he’d done, our eyes grew big.  Our minds raced.  Our hearts pounded.  RONAN!  You didn’t?!  He signed ‘yes’ that he did.  We watched Ronan like a hawk for hours afterward.  We saw no worrisome problems from the few sips of the mixed drink, so we finally relaxed.  Then, his younger brother made us laugh. 

Ronan must be part Russian.

Russian?  Why do you think that? 

Because that drink had some vodka in it.

He’s not Russian, but he is Irish.  And yes, Ronan also likes Irish whiskey.  My husband was gifted a bottle of Shanky’s Whip from a co-worker.  It smells amazing, like what I remember caramel candy smelled like when I was a little kid.  Every so often, when we bring out the bottle, Ronan gets to take a sniff of it.  One day, after smelling it, he stuck his finger in the bottle. 

Then he licked his finger. 

Then he stuck his finger in the bottle again.  

Then he licked his finger again and signed ‘yes’.

This week, Ronan turns twenty-one.  He won’t have a 21st birthday party like his big sister had.  He won’t go out with friends, get carded, or do shots like other 21 year olds plan to do.  This year, for the big birthday, we’ll do what we usually do.  We’ll take Ronan to one of his favorite restaurants for dinner, and then we’ll ask him if he wants to go to IKEA.  He loves IKEA, and we love taking him there.  When we come home, we’ll light candles, sing for Ronan, blow the candles out for Ronan, and help him open his present. 

Ronan loves birthdays.  He loves them because he knows we’re going to have cake.  The excitement he shows when the dining room light gets turned off and when the lighted cake is brought into the room is heartwarming.  With family gathered around the table, Ronan smiles the best and biggest smile.  When it’s his birthday, his smile is the most amazing.  He is not aware of a lot of things, but he knows that birthdays are very special days. 

Other of Ronan’s birthdays have been difficult for me to get through.  With how big a milestone this one is this week, I’m picking other emotions for it.  I’ll enjoy whichever restaurant he picks.  I’ll look forward to some fun, family shenanigans at IKEA.  With the medical conditions he has, and with the medication he’s on, we won’t bring out the Shanky’s when we get back home.  We won’t leave an unattended mixed drink out for him either.  Instead, we’ll toast to him with Zevia Colas.  We’ll have his favorite frozen cherry cheesecake made and ready for him.  We’ll light 21 candles and also blow them out for him.  His present is usually a simple one, but we’ll enjoy watching him try to open it like past years.  With family gathered and encouraging him as always, I can’t wait to see how excited Ronan will be later this week.  It’s sure to be something we will all relish. 

Happy 21st birthday to you, dear Ronan.  Happiest of birthdays to you, my beautiful son.

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.


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Happy 21st birthday Ronan! I remember when my son turned 21 several years ago and it is a big milestone. My son is in his 30s now and the time just keeps flying by with each birthday. Enjoy your special day and God Bless you and your wonderful family.


Happy Birthday Ronan!
Here's a non-alcholic drink to celebrate with:

Homemade Irish Cream

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. chocolate syrup
1 Tbs. instant coffee granules
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup brewed coffee

In a blender, combine the first eight ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator. For each serving, place coffee in a mug. Stir in 1/3 cup Irish cream Heat mixture in microwave if desired. Can become an adult beverage as well.

One could experiment with making this sugar-free/nondairy as well.

Gerardo Martinez

Great Article! Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the blessings of Family and your son. Each birthday is to be cherished!
The memories and love keep us going.

G. Martinez and family


Happy 'Birthing Day', mama.
And Happy Birthday to your Beloved.


21 so many mixed feeling about that.
Kim has such a hard time too.
Hugs to both of you and know I am deeply sorry.

Alcohol. like all the other drug out there is a huge problem too. All those babies that look like they squeezed by those vaccine injuries, but really didn't with unrecognized mental issues; once they come to age suddenly have problems with alcohol. I think it is a gate way drug to all of those available legal pharma drugs that could lead to illegal drugs.

So many people are affected . Our family neurologist ( yeah our family); her son had Kawaski disease. No doubt the DPT vaccine. Did not have learning disabilities, has a big degree from the university, working for Kroger and drinking so bad that she goes over to his apartment every morning and gives him a pill that makes him throw up if he drinks.

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