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Celebrating Differently with Danny!

Ellen Raede


By Ellen Raede (Danny's mom)

Raising a son with Asperger's, we often had to celebrate in a different way. Here are three examples:

1) When Danny turned 12, we were on vacation in Seattle.  To celebrate his actual birthday, Danny didn't want a party or special dinner, but instead requested a tour of Microsoft Headquarters.  Fortunately, we had a business acquaintance whose son coordinated a fabulous tour of the campus.  I really didn't understand all of the technical terms or descriptions of software – but Danny did!  He was focused, happy, thrilled, and social doing something that he wanted to do.

2) Danny was raised Jewish, and that meant we celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at age 13.  To prepare, he studied for months to learn to read Hebrew, learned some prayers, and wrote a speech about the meaning of his Torah portion.  (A lot for any 13-year-old!) On his Bar Mitzvah day, he lead services, and then we had a celebration. We had just had the diagnosis of Asperger's, so I had a little better idea of what we should NOT do to celebrate.  We shouldn't invite too many people.  We shouldn't make too much of a fuss of him.  We shouldn't celebrate with loud music. This was not the  normal celebration of our community, but it was perfect for Danny.  At the party celebrating him becoming part of the adult-community, instead of having lots of loud screaming teenagers dancing “YMCA,” we had a magician performing.  Instead of expecting Danny to participate in any games, he was the judge. And, instead of him arriving into the room with full fan-fare, he sat on his Dad's lap watching close-up magic.

3) High School Graduation Day was perfect for Danny.  My husband and I dreaded the thought of Danny having to sit through a few hours of  speeches and a long line of students waiting to get their diploma. So, when Danny said he really didn't want to go through with the graduation ceremony, we were a bit relieved.  But, we knew the importance of celebrating milestones, so we asked Danny for some alternative ideas.  What he came up with was spectacular.  On the day of everyone else's graduation ceremony, we drove the 1 ½ hours to Los Angeles, had dinner at an Italian restaurant where “picky-eater” Danny could be assured of finding something he'd like on the menu,  and made our way to an outdoor venue to attend a symphonic concert featuring the music of video games called “Video Games Live.”  Although my husband and I felt like we were in a foreign culture in unfamiliar territory, we were elated to see Danny very comfortable and happy and singing or humming along to every song. 

Celebrations are important but we quickly learned that we had to do things Danny's way.  And, we had fun too!


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  • AE Staff
Danny Raede


That visit to Seattle ended up shaping about half of a decade of my life because I moved to Seattle!

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Elizabeth Free


My son has a very difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit.  When Christmas comes along, he is stressed out with his college classes, and for the last several years didn't really get in the mood until after it was over.. and he withdrew into depression on account of missing it.  I don't want to steamroll him (like us female aspies do), but he HAS confirmed he DOES want to get in the Christmas spirit and enjoy the season.  Any ideas, anyone? I want to find the sweet spot between being aloof and steamrolling.

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Sheree Belfils


Is there any triditions you do that you could do togethe? Like decorating or making cookies. What about finding a way to help others some how? Some year it seams like a person gets into it more than others. Jut be there with him and do fun things together however that looks. A few other random ideas Christmas movies, Chrstmas music reading the Christmas story fromt the Bible together. 

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Jennifer Yuen


Elizabeth, Christmas doesn't technically end until Epiphany, so maybe celebrate on the last day of Christmas, Epiphany, instead of the 1st, Christmas day? My son is in an Epiphany play with performances this Saturday and Sunday, in fact. You could also spread your celebration into smaller pieces for each day of the Christmas period.

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Kristy Moher


For my son’s 13th birthday he didn’t want a party, he wanted a weekend away with his dad, uncle, and cousin to visit one of his favorite train museums 2 hours away. I can relate to this article a lot!  We also have seen Video Games Live because of my son’s love of classic gaming and classical music. Love this!

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Heather Davis


Thanks for this post. My son was just diagnosed and never wants to join in with silly games or other big group activities. When they have dress up days at school or PJ day, he never wants to do it. With school online this past spring, he did not want to join in with any "fun" sessions or PE or dancing, etc. We have learned not to push him into anything, but this definitely helps me see how common that is for ASD kids. And he is exactly the same way about eating. Where we go always has to take into account what he will eat--and Italian is always a safe choice! 

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