This story is from 2015 but still touching the lives of so many this Christmas season, especially moms and dads of children with autism. It continues to go viral every Christmas because the message is so simple, yet so important.
People who don’t understand autism can often mistake it with being naughty. Landon is all too familiar with this and so is his mom.
One day in December, Landon and his cousins took a trip to the RiverTown Crossings shopping mall in Michigan to visit Santa. He briefly met with Santa, then walked away. Fortunately, his mom and aunt were waiting for the pictures to develop and during that time, Landon decided to go back to see Santa again. When the lovable six-year-old drew near the big guy in the red suit for the second time, his hands were flapping in anticipation. He was going to ask something that made him really nervous.
Landon was worried that his behavior due to his autism would put him on the naughty list and he was concerned. He just had to ask Santa.
His question to Santa was, “Will my autism put me on the naughty list?”
Without doubt, Santa reacted with a fantastic response, WOOD-TV reported.
Santa took Landon’s hands in his and started rubbing them to calm him down.
He said, “You know I love you and the reindeer love you and it’s OKAY. You’re a good boy.”
But the 5 words he told Landon that meant everything to him and his mom were these, “It’s okay to be you.”
The anxious energy left Landon instantly and his mother Naomi sat there and viewed in awe as Santa relaxed her child. They spent about 5 more minutes together taking about Landon and his interests and the main thing that Santa and kids talk about, presents!
Landon’s mother shared with WOOD-TV that Santa perfectly described what she has been attempting to teach Landon all along. “It’s okay to be you.” She said that she has tried to teach him that he’s not any worse, or any better, than other children just because he is autistic. “He is a great kid and Santa made that clear.” Somehow, when Santa told him though, it registered and made sense to him. He took it in and believed him.
Naomi was delighted that Landon had soaked up what Santa had to say.
During their visit Santa also asked Landon if it bothered him to have Autism? Landon said that yes, sometimes it does. Santa told him that it shouldn’t. He told him not to worry and that he has been a very good boy being who he is.
“He was the real Santa Claus,” Landon said. “I’m not going to get coal. You get coal when you’re bad. Santa brings you coal if you’re bad.”
Later on, Naomi posted on Facebook about the special conversation between Landon and Santa. The Facebook post went viral and has since been shared over 50 thousands of times and has garnered over 11 thousand comments.
Santa had been working as a Santa at the RiverTown Crossings shopping mall for 8 years prior to that. He never received any special training on how to work with kids with special needs, but clearly he knows how to.
“I guess it just comes from being Santa,” he said. “You just have so many children, and I just love them all. I’m just a humble Santa trying to make people happy.” He said that he was so touched, and even overwhelmed, when he heard of the viral Facebook post. He said it brought tears to his eyes.
“My heart melted that he had such a wonderful experience. It wasn’t me. It was the two of us together.”
See Landon’s story here on Youtube. It is heartwarming and precious, especially knowing what an impact Santa had on Landon.