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Discovering Santa … Despite Autism December 24, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, Parenting.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I got my present a little early this year.

It’s been different around our house this year. First of all, so much time (and money) has been  spent on  ‘C’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy HBOT that it has added to the stress level around here. Yet on another hand, the HBOT seems to be healing ‘C’ and…as it does that…we are seeing so many miraculous things. Tonight was another example…

This idea I had tonight had all the makings for a Christmas disaster. ‘C’ had already gone through a full day of school…complete with stressful holiday party with all the food he can’t eat and the distribution of his 402 teacher’s gifts. With only 30 minutes of down time after school, he was hustled back into the car and endured the hour and a half in the HBOT tube and the 2 hour roundtrip on the road. But I felt the need  to take him to see Santa. Tonight. Right now.

You see, for the first time in, like, forever, ‘C’ seemed to “get” the Santa concept this year. He made a list and spoke of the “35 presents” that Santa was going to bring him (though the list itself had only 5 things on it). He also… on two occasions… said “I gotta go see Santa”. Did he really mean it?

I live about one half mile from the mall. At this time of year, that means about one minute’s  hour’s drive to wait on a line for 3 days  hours… So, the mall Santa was obviously out of the question. But what about the Santa in the woods? I had to try.

Our Girl Scout Council hosts a Winter Wonderland where you drive through trails in the woods of the campgrounds and look at beautiful light displays. Pile everyone in…its just $12 per carload. But there’s also a Santa photo op if you park the car and go into the main event center.

We arrived in the woods at 8pm..along with the rest of the population of Long Island. ‘C’ was tired and starving and crabbing about wanting to go home. We almost turned around when we saw the long line of cars.  So I asked him if he wanted to see Santa or go home. He said “Santa”. Hmmm…

At the first chance, we pulled off the Field of Dreams line and into the nearly-deserted lot of the center where Santa awaited. It was almost closing time on the last night that Santa would be there. Hubby and I exchange pessimistic glances. Surely this thing must be L-A-M-E…

We walked into a magical place. With only one kid ahead of us…Yes, just one kid…not the 257 at the mall wearing stiff frilly clothes… we step up to meet “Santa’s Helper”. He was a wonderful, big man taking the $15 pictures. He immediately engaged ‘C’ by smiling and asking about the small car he was holding.   WOW. Things sure have changed since I last tried a  photo with Santa about 4 years ago. Have you ever met a nice Santa’s helper before?

Then there was Santa himself. And I mean Santa. This was the real guy. No imposter here. He too engaged ‘C’ right away. No “pity engagement”. It was real and effortless. Warmth oozed out of this jolly guy. Tons of  “I’m so glad you came to see me” ‘s. With no hesitation at all. ‘C’ went up to him and stood there enveloped in his arms and took the photo of his life. Then, they encouraged..well actually insisted… that the whole family get in on a photo (no extra charge).  Did you hear me… a family photo?

Santa’s helper jingled his bells and got ‘C’ to look at the camera. Through his magic, the photos came out perfect. ‘C’ was relaxed and smiling and looking straight ahead. And.. despite me having “tank hair”, no make-up on, and still being in my scrubs from the HBOT… our family photo came out great too. I’m telling you,  there’s magic in those woods. 

Hubby and I are standing there waiting for the photos to be developed, barely even able yet to process the moment we were living. Then the real miracle happened…

‘C’ turned around and calmly walked over to Santa (who had not yet taken another kid on) and looked right into Santa’s warm eyes and said:

“I want the Batcave. Please Santa.”

Thank You, God.

Merry Christmas to Everyone! May you all enjoy the magic of this season.



1. Bruce McKeeman - December 24, 2008

Hello, my name is Bruce McKeeman. Our family business designs, manufacturers and distributes Hyperbaric Chambers (Hyperbaric-Dives.com)

When possible we donate/loan chambers for those in need. All we ask is confidentiality and a a small fee to cover expenses.

If you are interested you can visit our site and give me a call. We are helping two families now with our 40″ chambers.

612 325 8243.

2. tiredmama - December 25, 2008

How awesome! I was crying reading your post because I’m SO happy for ‘C’ and you! (And yay for the FAMILY picture!!!) Blessings to you and your family as you celebrate Christmas! 🙂

3. MOMSBLESSINGS - December 25, 2008

I am sure you wanted to run out that moment and buy that batcave if you haven’t already! That’s a true Christmas miracle.

4. Toni - December 29, 2008

How awesome! Would love to get a email with a copy of the family picture with Santa.

hopeauthority - December 30, 2008

Hey Toni: One of my resolutions is to get more techo savvy. I’d email the thing if I could! But it is pretty awesome to get a picture of the four of us that looks like a typical family! Well, as typical as one can look with ME in it!

5. Audrey - December 2, 2010

I was truly full of happiness reading your letter.. My niece last year went to a Preschool which encourages other children to help special children…. she actually at age 4 got one of her play buddies who is autistic (she is not) to talk no one else could get him to talk or interact… I know she has a special heart and is encouraged by my sister, mother and I that yes children and adults are different then each other but everyone has a special gifts and that we must learn from each other and not judge what one can and can not do cause in the end we all learn from each other… Her mother was in such joy for her daughter to use what the powers above gave her not only that but her friend’s mother calling my mother in tears of the great miracle my niece brought to her son….. the world and government doesn’t give credit to those who minds work different then the rest of the world but instead label you or tell you that you are unworthy to the world…. By cutting education for children like “C” etc how can we say because someone is different then we are that we are better then they… I am 42 and everyday learn something new and so does everyone else if they open there heart. In my home which to my mother, sister and niece live under the same roof. Holidays are family, love, understanding, support, caring, not judging, learn from each other, give back to society, showing not everyone walks away thinking they are better….. Like you said about Santa and his helper Hooray a kind heart we need more in this world because then maybe the world will be without WARS, Hatred, the starving and homeless. I miss the days when you’d live in a nieghborhood where people cared about each other instead of on upping each other with the most expensive things to showoff but to have bbqs and games, gardening, talking, watching each others children without fear of anything bad happening… well I can go on and on… I can wait to bring niece, sister and mother to this specular and maybe feel the enjoy I missed for so long…. Happy Holidays to everyone…

6. Julie - November 19, 2012

I got goose bumps reading your post! We live in Western Nassau ….Initially I wanted to go to see the holiday lights for my daughter in Daisies…. Now this could have a whole other meaning for my 4 year old son who is PDD NOS. thanks for sharing!

hopeauthority - February 20, 2013

Julie! SO sorry I wasn’t on the blog for awhile and missed this! I hope you went to the Girl Scouts Santa at Camp Edey! It was the same Santa and I love him. Let me know how it went!~Tracey

7. Steven Grieco - December 3, 2013

This story may have been posted a few years ago, but every time I read it, it makes me very emotional. We have been working with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County offering Santa photos at the Holiday Light Show for the last seven years now and it is an event we look forward to all year long. Each and every night there is a child or several children meeting Santa for the first time and it is just such a magical moment. Each story is different but it warms our hearts to see children just being children and for those moments being able to forget about any issues they may be dealing with. The magic of Christmas and Santa is very real and we are blessed to be part of it and glad to be able to offer families a wonderful holiday opportunity.

Steven Grieco
Sand Castle Photography

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