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James Pearson said due to the nature of Logan's disability, it's been hard to mark Logan's birthday like other children, including his two younger siblings. So over the years, as Logan's disability became more apparent, his family celebrated his birthday less and less.
ANDOVER, Mass. Cathy Pearson wanted to make sure this birthday was different for her severely autistic son, Logan.
"He has received, from one kid in Washington, a 'Jay Jay the Jet Plane' play set. He has gotten a Slinky, Hot Wheels cars," James Pearson said. "Someone sent us an Australian flag a full size Australian flag. Postal Service, said he knew something was going Hermes Belt Green
"I guess everyone realizes that he doesn't understand anyways," she wrote. "This year, I want to stop feeling downright upset that my son is aging into a young man under a blanket of autism. I want to CELEBRATE him and ENJOY his day."
So after years of Logan's birthday passing without fanfare due to his disability, Pearson put a call out to friends and family to send birthday wishes to her son, who turned 12 on Feb. 24.
The Facebook post came equipped with permission from Cathy Pearson to share and pass it around. From there, "it ended up, really, getting re posted beyond what she had expected to the point that it went viral."
The Boston Police Department shipped a police academy shirt. A classroom from Ferragamo Belt Women Tanzania sent a package of letters. Even Elmo forwarded an autographed picture.
The outpouring has been more than Pearson and her husband, James, could ever have fathomed for their oldest child, who is nonverbal and cognitively at the developmental level of an 18 month old or 2 year old.
Over time, handfuls of cards became totes of mail delivered daily with return addresses from around the country. Then, the mail started displaying international labels and stamps, too, O'Connell said.
And not just from friends and family. The world answered the call, sending thousands of cards, as well as gifts and souvenirs, too.
"The expectation is you go to birthday parties and social events, and kids interact with each other," James Pearson said. "But because of his disability, he can't interact.
O'Connell wonders if the senders realize they are part of something global that has united people from all over Lv Belt New
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Eagle Tribune.
In addition to the birthday wishes for Logan, many people have also taken the opportunity to pass a message on to his parents.
One card contained a crisp $20 bill and a handwritten note, reading "to be used only for ice cream. Enjoy." Another came with the words "Happy Birthday Logan" punched in braille and then rewritten in ink. Recently, a stranger sent along a card with a $100 gift card to Toys "R'' Us.
In her initial post to friends and family via Facebook on Jan. 30, Cathy Pearson said she was already "feeling sick about losing another year where autism has my son has his voice! Every year on his birthday, I close my bedroom door and bury my face into my pillow and cry."
"After the first day, I was getting handfuls of cards," O'Connell said. "I didn't know who Logan was at the time and was curious who he was. I started getting envious. I don't get half these greetings."
"We're at the point where we believe he understands more than we give him credit for. I know for sure he responds to us being excited," James Pearson said. "For that reason, we still want to do something for him."
Andover autistic boy gets global birthday wishes
The experience has also led to a request from Autism Speaks for Cathy Pearson to start a blog and share "what it is like to raise a child so severely impacted with autism."
So the family planned out to eat at one of Logan's favorite restaurants Fuddruckers in North Andover.
In a matter of days, cards and gifts started arriving at an alarming rate.
While the family recognizes that Logan likely doesn't understand the significance of the response he has sparked, they said they do. And they believe Logan realizes something special is occurring, too.
"It was just kind of a little bit of a bummer. And my wife, every year on his birthday, would feel sad about it. I'd feel sad, too, but not the same way a mom does."
"One of the ones that touched us the most was a woman who related to us that she, too, had Lv Belt Grey
a son with autism, and she had experienced the same kinds of feelings," James Pearson said. "She said, 'In honor of both my son and yours, I'm going to send Logan a birthday card every year.'"
on when the family's mail started bulking up beyond reason.
As the post has made its way around the globe, including to autism support networks everywhere, well wishes by the hundreds from as far away as Japan and Tanzania have flooded the family's Lowell Street home.
The woman is not alone, with others pledging to continue sending Logan birthday cards annually, which his father said "will be exciting to see."
James Pearson estimates Logan has received a couple thousand pieces of mail, with more arriving daily.
"If someone sends something from Great Britain, do they know it's coming from Japan, too?" he said.
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