Birthday Letter to Daniel – Age 4

Birthday cake   By Emily H.E. Brown


Dear Daniel,

Your birthday letter comes late this year. Your parents have been unreasonably busy. Your papa is in massage school and I am building a practice (moving to a new office) and learning a LOT. I’m learning a lot about a lot of things, but being the mom you need me to be is something I always have an antenna up for. In these last 10 months or so, the “topics” for my development as your mom have included Human Design/Manifestors and Autism. According to Human Design, you are what is called an “Emotional Manifestor.” Your strategy is “to inform” and your life’s purpose is to “initiate” – what, I don’t know, but you initiate a lot.


Yesterday, we took you for a hard day of testing and they gave you a diagnosis of Autism. We really didn’t see that coming, so we’re struggling at the moment to get our footing. We’re hellbent on not letting you be defined by a bunch of people who have only known you for a day. We’re committed to taking what they can offer that we want for you and leaving the rest.

Shoots growing from the ground

Only optimism and strengths-based assessments welcome here, thank-you very much!

You are a REMARKABLE person. If you read the definitions of a “Manifestor” and an “autistic person” you’ll see that the descriptions are astonishingly similar. It’s really quite remarkable! Diagnosis is intended to serve only positive purposes, but in fact, it is very often violent and diminishing, extracting from a person all the specialness and gifts that they have to offer the world.   People who talk about “autism” seek to cure, fix, … They see the person described as autistic as damaged, disabled, …. They seek “ordinary” “indistinguishable from their peers.” I find that revolting. Who would want a life like that?!?! But when people talk about raising their Manifestor child, they talk about celebrating a child’s gifts, rejoicing in their child’s personal power, capacity to initiate, and seemingly total freedom from co-dependence; they talk about teaching him/her to cope with an excessively controlling society, and to consider others needs when making decisions. I see that as a balanced, sane, and sustainable way to love a human being.

In every school of therapy dealing with relationships, there is a core tenant – we must never seek to fix/change another person. I am in relationship with you and thus I must never seek to change or “fix” who you are. That should not be hard. You are not broken. Autism or manifestor or something else… the words we choose speak volumes about what we believe, and the way a parent describes a child speaks volumes about who that parent believes the child to be. I choose to believe you are Daniel: the perfect, whole, unique, wild, wonderful, powerful, intense, adorable person.

Mother and child holding hands

I am blessed and honored to parent such a soul!

I welcome access to services that support our pursuit of giving you a foundation for joy. I reject any words they might use that inhibit that. I believe this may require that we forego many services, because the purveyors of those services may carry baggage you don’t benefit from being asked to carry. Thus, I need to learn to hear through language, to get behind it, to find the spirit behind the words. You remain as you have always been, compassionate and calm. You still accept limits with remarkably little difficulty, and still don’t have many tantrums. We’ve learned not to set you up for tantrums too. One important way we do that is by making sure to let you get enough sleep. We’re trying to incorporate more outside time into our whole family’s weekend routines and to ensure that all the people in your caregiving/care-receiving routine are positive, non-anxious, and good for you.

I pray “that you will continue to explore the wonderful world with eyes, heart, and mind wide open; that you keep exploring the whole range of yourself: athleticism and musicality, solemnity and exuberance, sense of humor and soulfulness; and that you live into your gentleness, trust your intuition, and embrace the adventures that await you every day.”

Love, Mama

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