My son with autism loves car washes, so we threw him a very special birthday party this year

By Kate Cortelyou | February 22, 2019

Kate Cortelyou lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and two kids. Her son was diagnosed with autism in April 2017. She works as a special education advocate, helping families get their children appropriate services in the public schools. 

james bday 1

Dear James,

Today you turn 5. For some reason that seems so old. You have changed my world in ways I didn’t think possible. 

This year you asked me for a car wash birthday party. You asked me for one last year too and after calling a dozen places, I couldn’t find an owner who would get on board. You love car washes. Absolutely fascinated by them. You build them at home, watch videos on them and when a new car wash opened up last spring near us, we bought a monthly membership because you requested we go through so often. Mike owns Washtopia in Hermitage, TN. He is the good in this world and the kind of human everyone should strive to be. He donated $500 to our team for our Autism Speaks walk in 2018. He gave you an employee name tag and even a car wash wipe to take home. You call him the car wash man. When you requested another car wash birthday, I emailed Mike with my fingers crossed.

james bday 2

Today, you had your 5th birthday party at Washtopia. They bought you a cake, made a cool sign and let us take over their break room that looks down into the car wash. You invited a few friends from school and several of your therapists stopped by too. We watched car after car go through the wash, we ate pizza and sang happy birthday. You kept saying all morning how this was the best birthday ever. 

james bday 3

A special kind of party for a special kid. Unique. Possibly even atypical. We are forever grateful to Washtopia for their hospitality, their kind employees and for creating an environment that welcomes all. 

james bday 5

Happy Birthday, sweet James. I hope you remember this birthday for the rest of your life. 



james bday 4

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