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Why We Sing 'Happy Birthday' with My Autistic Son Every Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and with it comes the yearly conundrum faced by this autism family and our extended family.

Whom should we sing "Happy Birthday" to on Thanksgiving Day? The turkey? The pilgirms and Native Americans? We've regaled them all over the years.


I think a little explanation is in order.

My autistic son, now 13, loves to sing "Happy Birthday" at every family gathering. In his worldview, it's not a party until we sing "Happy Birthday." And our big extended family always sings along.

Sometimes the holiday/Happy Birthday mash-up is effortless. On Easter, we sing "Happy Birthday" to the Easter Bunny. On the Fourth of July, we sing to Uncle Sam or America. In a few weeks, our Christmas carol will be "Happy Birthday, Jesus."

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