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Our first Christmas with autism and a compassionate Santa

This post is by Lauren Casper a mother of two who blogs at Lauren's son Mareto is on the autism spectrum. Her blog originally appeared here.

Sometimes I wish we had a sign to carry around or stick on the back of Mareto’s shirt when the need should surface. It would say something long the lines of  “Please be kind to my parents and patient with me… I have autism and we’re all doing the best we can.”

I bet you wish you had a sign sometimes too. There were several moments I wished I had a sign that said, “Please don’t ask me when we’re going to have kids… this infertility journey is breaking my heart and I don’t need the reminder.”

We’ve all got scars and stories hidden and tucked away. We don’t share all our “stuff” with random strangers because that’s not socially appropriate. Isn’t it funny how we forget that other people have hurts, stories, and broken dreams of their own? We get so focused on our own issues and are so defensive of ourselves that we forget we’re walking through a broken world.

But sometimes… sometimes we have to swallow our fear, forget what’s socially appropriate, and show our real selves to a perfect stranger.

The other week we happened upon a Santa set up with no line. I have wonderful memories of getting my picture taken with Santa Claus and I wanted to enjoy the tradition with my own children, but there were so many unknowns. Would Mareto sit on his lap? Would he hold still for pictures? Would he try to take the “balls” off the tree that was standing next to Santa ? Would Santa try to talk to him and scare him?

We slowly walked up to the photographer and explained our situation to her. I told her that we had no expectations – that if he wouldn’t sit we didn’t care, that Santa could try to talk to Mareto but Mareto couldn’t talk back… he’s a good boy and wants to… but he was nonverbal. We told her he has autism (a word that’s usually met with blank and glazed over stares). She smiled and sprang into action – treating Mareto like the special and wonderful boy that he is.

Her understanding and acceptance led to a beautiful memory and sweet keepsakes…

Christmas treasures…

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.