Birthday Traditions

Amanda O'Neill by Amanda O'Neill Additional Needs

Amanda O'Neill

Amanda O'Neill

I’m Amanda, I’m 25 and mummy to my little angel Ryan who has quadriplegic dystonic cerebral palsy. I never knew in life what i wanted to be when I...

Once Christmas and the new year is over with each year our family get ready to celebrate Ryan's birthday. On the 12th of January Ryan turned 4.

Having a child who has a birthday so close to Christmas can be stressful as there are only so many gift ideas we can think of.

For us, it becomes even more difficult because in Ryan's case he does not provide us with a long list of presents that he would like.

If I am 100 per cent honest I do sometimes struggle for gift ideas for Ryan.

He cannot play independently using his hands so a lot of toys on today's market would be a waste of time for him.

I tend to research and keep an eye out for other toy ideas that he will benefit from. Our go-to toy ideas most years are things that light up makes a lot of noise and have the ability to move.

These toys are normally for a younger age range than Ryan but if these toys make Ryan smile then that reason alone is good enough for us.

This years birthday present was a massive hit and I would even go as far to say its been his best present yet.

We bought him a waltzer car. This is a ride on toy it spins around, lights up and plays music.

We attached his Firefly GoToSeat to the waltzer and it turned from a regular ride on toy to a supportive Ryan friendly ride on toy.

Each year we just have a small get together at home for Ryan and invite all our close family and friends.

I love to pick a theme to base his party around.

This year was a Finding Dory/Nemo theme as it is currently his favourite Disney film.

I bought blue and white crepe paper and made an under-the-sea inspired wall in our kitchen.

I hung cardboard fish between the twisted crepe stripes and set up a table in front of the wall. I place a lightbox on the table that read 'JUST KEEP SWIMMING' and added an inflatable Nemo at the other side.

I also always order him balloons to match the theme of his party, I love how happy he is about still being able to look at the colourful balloons for days after his birthday is over.

It feels like its a continued celebration.

Another tradition for Ryans birthday is I always make his birthday cake myself. Before I had Ryan I studied cake decorating at college and went onto work as a pastry chef at a restaurant.

I fell away from my cake decorating when Ryan was first born but I made it our tradition that I would make 1 cake per year and that would be for Ryan's birthday.

I love to try and outdo the cakes by making it better than the previous year. His Finding Dory cake was one of my favourite cakes to date.

It was an under the sea themed cake with a fishbowl filled with water on top and in the fishbowl was a battery operated swimming Dory.

I love to take as many photographs as I can it is important for me to capture the moments.

As a special needs mum, I try and make Ryans birthday better than he would ever hope for or imagine.

I want to make every single birthday special. Treat every birthday like its the last.

This is the main reason why we do what we do. Every single year is a blessing and another achievement.

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