This holiday season we have been touched with the spirit of Christmas by friends and complete strangers.
Christmas is a little different for us. My son, Johnny, who is almost 6 and on the autism spectrum, doesn’t ask for toys or say what he wants. He lacks communication skills and understanding as to why. We can go to the store and he may look at and touch a couple things but never says he wants them or tries to take it with him.
I’m sure that sounds amazing to many parents but for me it’s a little sad. He doesn’t understand that those things are to buy and that he could, if allowed, take them home and have them.
It’s the same thing with presents. There is so much to receiving a gift many of us don’t think about. The expectation of the giver, the group of people watching you open, and the loud parties or events that are usually associated with them, are all very overwhelming for Johnny. So much so that it has made gift opening undesirable to him.
This means no asking for gifts on his birthday and no exciting Christmas mornings filled with anticipation. For me there is so much guessing as to what he might actual enjoy, play with, and care about.
This last month an amazing thing happened. Johnny saw a toy on a YouTube video, pointed to it and said “Christmas” I was shocked. The week before I sat with him and his sister making lists. For him I had to name different types of toys and he’d said “yes” or “no” then I would write the yeses down. I wasn’t sure if he understood but this meant he did and was asking for a toy. Amazing!
Of course I immediately went to find the toy and everywhere was sold out. The video we saw it on was a couple years old. My heart sank. I told a few of my friends who have autistic kids. I knew they would understand. Without me even asking they all went to the task of hunting down the toy.
My heart could have burst. They were searching their states and provinces, calling and emailing the company who made it and searching the internet, they were a force.
My sweet friend Amanda from Jackson’s Journey, Jackson’s Voice posted about it on her Facebook page and momma from Canada found a used one online. This amazing mom, Danielle who also has an autistic child, understood the need and reached out to the seller. I cried when I heard it was found.
A couple weeks later and package arrived from Canada. A sense of joy and relief filled me. For the first time ever my son asked for something he wanted for Christmas and is going to get it. The sweet lady, Joanne, who sent it could have asked me for a lot of money and I probably would have paid, but she didn’t. She sent it for free and Danielle covered the shipping.
Joanne wrote the sweetest letter about this amazing “Christmas wish”, and I once again cried.
This may seem like a small and silly toy, and I know we are already so fortunate to be able to have Christmas gifts and be healthy and happy together, but I’m also so glad to see my son becoming more aware. We have worked so hard for him to have a voice. Have his own wants, opinions, and thoughts. I’m so excited he could understand and can now experience some of the same joys other kids his age do.
I doubt there will be a big show of it this Christmas. He is a very logic boy. He’s been told you ask for a toy from Santa and it comes. So he asked for it and knows he will find it under the tree Christmas morning. If it wasn’t it would be very hard for him to understand. Actually he wouldn’t understand. This would likely cause a meltdown, weeks of explaining and probably still not understanding. This time it will be there though. He has been and will be disappointed many times in his life, but this time because of sweet angels he won’t.
My heart is full and happy. I can’t wait to watch my son open his gift. I can’t wait to truly explain to him one day the the spirit of giving and how he was touched by it by many people when he was five.