A Birthday Celebration! Happy 28th, Ryan!

Is it possible? Ryan is turning 28 tomorrow! This is one of those special days where I love to take a moment to reflect on my journey with Ryan. I enjoy looking at his pictures that remind me of some of our “momentous” occasions, and I thought I’d share a few with you as well.

Looking back, his first few weeks and months seemed like a blur. I do recall that on his 3-month birthday, he slept through the night for the very first time. What a great birthday gift! Around the same time, I enrolled Ryan in our Happy Hearts Infant child care program. Knowing that he was just down the block from my office was a great comfort, as I’m sure any first-time parent understands. There were many days that I “lunched” with Ryan…great fun!

Ryan’s first birthday

Not long after that he was celebrating his first birthday with his “classmates” at Happy Hearts.

Ryan was around 14 months when I recognized that his expressive language wasn’t developing as rapidly as his receptive language. Based upon my professional experience, I knew that it was time for a speech evaluation, which led us to joining a toddler language group.

Ryan did not make the gains that we hoped for, so I spoke with my brother Joe Barber, MD, a pediatric neurologist, about my continued concerns. It was Joe who then gave Ryan a diagnosis of autism. Our journey had begun……

As I look back on the past 28 years of this journey, with its peaks and valleys, I’m very proud of who Ryan is, how he has grown and matured, and his numerous successes along the way. Today, his days are busy, divided between maintenance work at Bello’s Market and BNI. Before and after work, you’ll find him running 60 minutes depending on the season, lifting weights, or doing any of his favorite sports, including golf, skiing, and bowling.

Ryan has achieved so much because I set my expectations for him high and always believed that he would reach them. Of course, there have been bumps on the road and I know that they will always continue. But I continue to believe that anything is possible. After all, as Audrey Hepburn said: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’”

In closing, I am truly grateful for my family, my friends (especially Jeanne) and the outstanding people who have loved him, nurtured him, taught him, and supported him on a daily basis. Thanks to each and every one of you – we couldn’t have done it without you!

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