Boy tells Santa he is worried Autism will put him on “Naughty List”
Christmas is a magical time of year. Kids world-wide overflow with joy just thinking about the mystical Saint Nick who graces them with gifts every Christmas morning. Santa Claus can be found relaxing before his big day at shopping malls, with a listening ear for the little ones who want to make sure they’re on the “Nice list.” A heartbreaking story comes from Michigan, where an autistic boy confronted Santa with a concern he had. He asked Santa if “being autistic would put him on the naughty list.” My initial reaction to this story was deep sadness, thinking about the boy and his thoughts. It makes you want to drive to Michigan and give the little guy a hug. What Santa says will further break your heart, in the best way possible.
“It’s okay to be yourself, and you’ve been very good at doing just that.” The simplest, kindest words spoken from the jolly man himself, changed the course of the sweet boys’ Christmas entirely. It was such an unexpected circumstance, and “santa” handled it with grace and affirmation. The mother of the child expressed her gratitude on Facebook and her story was shared more than 30,000 times. It is a story people are wanting to see during this joy filled season, simply reminding others of the spirit of Christmas. I am so glad Landon asked “santa” about his concern and was able to get back to the youthful joy of celebrating Christmas.
I was confronted with a similar situation in my hometown a few years back. Our family friend, Savannah Stralow, has high-functioning autism. I remember the day clearly. I was driving her home from school and having a normal conversation. There were a few moments she was silent, and then she asked me if I knew that she was autistic. In the moment I was completely taken off guard. I looked over at her and saw the sincerity in her eyes, realizing she was honestly curious if I knew. My mind was racing, and I simply told her that yes I did know, and it just makes her that much more awesome. I wish I could have phrased it differently, but I needed to let her know that it absolutely does not define her in a negative way at all. After I responded, she sat back and seemed to be her relaxed and goofy self, and conversation went back to normal.
The story of Landon and santa hit me emotionally, and I am so thankful that Landon was at the mall with this particular santa. I know that the single instance of hearing the reassuring words from such a special person is what will influence many of Landon’s Christmas’s and life adventures to come. It also just makes me thankful for people like the man who was acting as santa that day. Genuine kindness is so refreshing to find in the world, and it makes for an incredibly heartwarming story as well.