He’s a child.

I just reviewed an online course about meeting children with autism. I had almost forgotten about an encounter I had this past season in Orlando. I had forgotten because I viewed this youngster as a child and not one with a handicap. I met him while I was walking a mall as Santa.  When he came up to me he stood there and just looked at me. It took me a few seconds to recognize what was happening. I  dropped into a squat and looked at him for a few seconds, gave him a big smile, dropped my eyes and spoke to him in  a low voice. I told him he had grown some since I saw him Christmas eve, almost so that I didn’t recognize him. I told him I knew he was trying real hard to be good and that I would see him again this Christmas. In the meanwhile, his mom is behind him telling me that he is nonverbal and not to expect a response. As I stood to leave I noticed a movement towards me, I dropped back into a squat just in time to receive a huge, hard hug. I returned the hug. He immediately backed off, I stood to go and his mom mouthed “thank you”. I left there with tears on my cheeks. Children can really bring out your emotions.

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