Christmas is tough for Norrin. I know he likes it - the presents and candy and Santa. All of those things he can see - they are concrete things. But the idea of Christmas, the feeling and excitement that comes with the anticipation of Christmas. I know he doesn't get it. Christmas is full of abstract concepts that are so complex for his mind to grasp. It's religion, the birth of Christ, faith. How do you explain faith to a child with Autism?
Earlier this month, I purchased a Toy Story Advent Calendar for Norrin. Wanting to count down to Christmas. I have been reading every Christmas book out there: How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Merry Christmas Little Critter, The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear, A Charlie Brown Christmas and a few more. I've decorated his room. I haven't bought a tree yet, but we've seen them in the street and in the stores. I've pointed them out - said that we are going to buy one soon. But Norrin doesn't really seem to care.
Then it snowed. Not a lot. Just enough. We woke up Tuesday morning to a thin layer of snow on the ground. I bundled Norrin up and walked him downstairs to the bus. When he saw the snow, he said "Look at all this snow. It's Christmas time. Where's Santa?" 10 words and a wh question! To hear the excitement in his high pitched voice. He was looking at me and smiling. Behind that smile wasn't a child on the spectrum. The smile belonged to a little boy, excited about Chrismas. It was the moment I had been waiting for.
And it made sense to me. In every book about Christmas we've read, there is snow. Snow is a concrete object - it required no imagination. He associated Christmas and Santa with snow. And while snow is a pain to travel through and deal with. I'll take it and pray for a blizzard on Christmas day.
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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.