Each month I have the pleasure of hosting a play group for children with autism and their families. I’ve wrote about it before, but to recap it’s simply a place for our kids to run around without any judgment.
For our latest play group I extended an invitation out to a very special, very busy man. I asked Santa to come to our play group to visit some of my favorite children, because sometimes it’s hard for these kids to go see Santa.
Generally a visit out to Santa is a day that is out of routine, involves waiting, and you get just a minute or two to get comfortable with this strange man before your parents are asking for your picture.
I wanted Santa to come to these kids, instead of the other way around. I wanted a Santa who would play, sign “your welcome” back to the kid who signs him “thank you”, be prepared for very straight-forward questions, and who would give kids as much time as they needed.
When Santa first arrived, only a couple of kids instantly went up to him. And that was fine. By the end of the night, every single one had either sat on his lap, talked with him, or given him a high five.
I can’t speak for all of the parents there, but I can speak for my own little guy.
Brian’s pictures with Santa generally come out something like this:
Not horrible, but not exactly comfortable looking.
Yet, when Santa started walking around the play area and playing with the kids, Brian began flapping. Happy flaps. He started scripting “Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.”
When Santa came close to the climber, Brian strategized how to steal Santa’s hat and the two of them had this purely magical moment. This moment where Brian had a twinkle in his eye and the best grin. Any traditional visit to Santa would have never ended with this sort of connection.
Thank you Santa for helping me believe in the magic of Christmas again.
Thanks to all of the parent’s permission, I was able to share the magic from our play group. Please visit The A-Word’s facebook page to see all the wonderful pictures!