Offering Individualized

Educational Programs For K-12 Students

Some More Christmas Cheer: Autism and the Holidays

Last week, we looked at a couple of ways families and local communities have been using the holiday season to raise awareness about autism and to use the spirit of the season to encourage recognition of those with autism and the challenges they face. This week sees something of a sequel to that article since as the month continues on, we keep finding more stories from around the internet to share with you and hopefully warm your heart with some Christmas Cheer.

First up, in a story that has gone viral across the internet, a video has been making the rounds in which a mall Santa Claus is seen comforting a child with autism who is concerned that his condition will cause him to be placed on the naughty list. The Santa, who works at the River Town Crossings mall in Michigan, told the boy “It’s OK to be yourself.”

According to the boy Landon’s mother, Naomi Johnson, Landon visited the Santa after previously seeing him with his cousins, telling him that “sometimes he gets in trouble at school and it’s hard for people to understand that he has autism and that he’s not a naughty boy.” In response, the Santa admirably told Landon that he had no need to worry and that he has been “a very good boy being who he is.” The two then went on to talk for over five minutes while Landon continued to open up, feeling accepted by the Santa.

In other autism and yuletide-related news, a community in Canada recently rallied around a young 12-year-old boy named Will Haley with autism who is obsessed with the color Primrose. In particular, he’s taken with Primrose markers, which are the first things he looks for in the morning and the last thing he thinks about at night.

“Primrose is the color he has in his hand almost all the time,” his mom, Stacey Haley, said. “He walks around with the markers like a security blanket.” When he is highly anxious, his world simply stops. Thus, every week the mother buys one packet of markers, just to get a single primrose marker.

However, with the holidays coming, Stacey decided she should stock up to make sure her son had plenty of ‘security blankets’ to handle the holiday stress. Posting on Facebook she wrote,” “Cry for help for this frazzled, stressed-out (and broke) autism mama,” offering to trade two of her extra markers for every one primrose.

First it started off with a friend of hers appearing a few hours later clutching three primrose markers. Soon Stacey was inundated with online messages from around the world from people who promised to send primrose markers while providing kind words. “I almost cried,” Haley said. “I was really touched someone thought it was a big enough deal to come to my house. Once I started getting messages that more were coming, I was blown away.”

As of publication, Stacey and Will are currently expecting upwards of 500 markers, making for a perfect story showing the generosity of spirit that comes with the holiday season.