Ah…the holidays. Such a magical time of the year. This is when kids become overly excited with all the sights, sounds, and smells. Not to mention the anticipation of waking up on Christmas day to open all the presents that Santa Clause put under the tree.
But for some kids, the holidays are overwhelming. This was the case for an autistic boy named Baiz Weerts. Since the age of two, he wanted so bad to meet Santa but it was simply too stressful for him. His mom, Sheila Seelye, wasn’t sure if her son’s dreams would ever come true.
For Baiz, social environments are too stressful to handle.
Autism is tricky since there are different levels on the spectrum. While some kids do fine in social settings, others don’t. In Baiz’s case, he panics. This boy has what’s called “selective mutism.” That means he automatically shuts down whenever he’s in a social situation. That includes meeting his idol – Santa Claus.
For six years in a row, Baiz was determined that “this was the year.”
From the age of two, Baiz fell in love with the holidays but even more so with Santa. His mother said he would ask to go to the mall just about every weekend during the Christmas season. He would tell her, “I’m gonna do it this time.” But when they would arrive, he would instantly freeze. Together, they would sit a distance away from Santa just watching while Baiz worked through his emotions.
Miracles really do happen.
This year while visiting a mall in Illinois along with his mom and twin sister, Layna, Baiz did something completely unexpected. It started with his sister wanting to have her picture taken with Santa. Eager to follow behind, he ran right up to the jolly man himself. But then his emotions took over.
Baiz started to shut down.
While he wanted desperately to meet Santa, he quickly began to panic. Not knowing how to deal with the situation, the little boy climbed into a shopper cart. Soon, tears streamed down his face. But Santa, being the doer of all good deeds, knew exactly what to do.
Santa had been watching the scene play out.
From the sidelines, “Santa” noticed the boy and recognized that he was struggling. Instead of coming on too strong, he slowly rose from his chair. But even talking to him in a calming voice, Baiz couldn’t stop crying. Then, Santa handed him a candy cane, which helped ease his fear a little bit.
These were tears of pure joy.
At first, Sheila thought her son was crying because he was overwhelmed or scared. She then realized those weren’t sad tears but happy ones. She kept hearing Santa tell Baiz, “You’re okay buddy. You’re gonna be okay.” Somehow, Santa was able to connect with this precious boy. He was the happiest he’s ever been. But what else would you expect? After all, this was the real Santa Claus, right?
Who else would’ve known the secret to reach a little boy with autism?
Sheila said, “Santa just knew. That meant the most to me. He knew Baiz needed him to come over.” For this family, that experience was a huge breakthrough. Now that her son feels safe and comfortable around Santa, she hopes he’ll begin to deal with other stressful situations better. “Santa picked the right child at the right time.”
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