Acts of Kindness
Boy with autism has heartwarming visit with mall Santa Claus
The mall Santa spoke with a soft voice, delivering a message to Landon he'll never forget.
Elijah Chan
11.17.21

A boy with autism was worried that he was on the “Naughty List”.

But during a heartwarming encounter, Santa Claus had the perfect answer to his question.

YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8

As the holidays are fast approaching, malls are beginning to take in their annual guest. And while we know that these are just men in Santa’s costume, kids still firmly believe that this is the Santa they know from stories.

Landon Johnson, a 6-year-old boy with autism, had an encounter with Santa.

In a Facebook post shared by his mother Naomi, Landon was seen standing close with the old character. The encounter happened at RiverTown Crossing Mall in Michigan where Landon went with his cousins.

YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8

He already had his turn when he felt that he needed to go back and tell Santa something important. Besides his wish for a gaming console, a remote-controlled car, and a dinosaur toy, Landon still has one question that needed answering.

So while his aunt was waiting for photos, he took the chance to go back to Santa.

Naomi shared how excited Landon was. He was flapping his hands and smiling because he could finally tell Santa that he is autistic. He could also finally find out something that had been weighing on his chest.

YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8

Landon then asked Santa if he was on the “Naughty List”.

For us who know about Landon’s condition, it’s easy to say that he isn’t. That he’s special. That he sees the world through a different lens.

YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8

But for others who are not as aware, they could easily dismiss Landon as someone naughty, overly talkative, and hyperactive. Landon told Santa that even at school, he sometimes gets into trouble and he has a hard time making people understand that he has autism.

But Santa said “No” and that “It’s okay to be yourself.”

Santa further assured him that he didn’t have to worry since he had been a very good boy. While Landon admitted that his autism sometimes bothers him, Santa insisted that it shouldn’t.

YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8

Naomi explained in her post how much these words meant to Landon. She shared that her son has always been a great advocate for himself. But being validated by someone else that he deliberately confided in meant that someone else accepted him for who he is.

That day, for Santa, he was just Landon.

“He wasn’t a science experiment,” Naomi said in her Facebook post. “like he gets treated when most people find out he’s autistic. He was Landon, sitting with Santa and being told that it was ok to be himself.”

YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8

According to WHO, approximately one in 160 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This condition can manifest in varying degrees of mental, emotional, and social capabilities where one can be independent while others may need support.

YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WOOD TV 8

The condition can make them vulnerable to bullying, especially when people lack awareness. But thankfully, with people like Santa, children like Landon will feel a sense of belongingness and identity.

And hopefully, as the lesson of this post ripple to others, may we become much more understanding, inclusive, and empowering, especially in this season of giving.

Watch how this Santa gave the “best gift” to a boy with autism in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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