The opportunity to sit on Santa's lap and ask for that coveted toy is something many kids look forward to every year. But between the noise, the line, and the strangers, this annual tradition can cause great anxiety for some children with autism — until Santa comes to the rescue!
Erin Deely didn't think her son would have to miss out on some holiday experiences after he was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, so she decided to take a chance and brought Brayden to a Caring Santa event in North Carolina back in 2015. This program gives special-needs families their own controlled environment to meet with Santa.
"I thought we would never get those holiday pictures with him because it's something he can't handle — the noise and the pressure. He gets anxious if you ask him to smile. It's all too much for him," Erin said.
When it was Brayden's turn to meet with Santa, he shyly approached the grand chair. But instead of waiting for the boy to nervously approach, this fabulous Santa laid down right on the ground and started playing with Brayden. The precious photos of their sweet interaction captured a powerful moment for Brayden and his mom. "Oh my gosh, to be able to do something that other families do . . . Normally a lot of things are harder for us as a family, and we got to do the same tradition as everyone else — we just do it on the floor," Erin said.