Santa's Response to an Autistic Boy Is What the Holidays Are About

December 3rd 2015

Laura Donovan

One Santa is definitely avoiding the Naughty List this year.

At a recent Caring Santa event, which is catered to special needs and autistic kids, an autistic boy named Brayden Deely, didn't want to get on Santa's lap. Santa's reaction? Getting down on the floor to meet the child at his level and make him feel comfortable.

This was a touching moment for Brayden's mother, who told local North Carolina news station WCNC that her family "would not have Santa pictures" this holiday season had it not been for this Santa's gentle approach.

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Caring Santa on the ground with boy

Caring Santa on the ground with boy

"Social situations get very difficult for him so having the ability for us to come in and set up an appointment and give him an experience of a typical child is huge for him and huge for us," Dan Deely, Brayden's father, told WCNC.

Caring Santa, which is organized by Autism Speaks, is a two-year-old program that gives special needs or autistic kids 15 to 20 minutes of one-on-one time with Santa. Maeghan Pawley, who works for Autism Speaks' family services team in Charlotte, North Carolina, told Autism Speaks that the staff is patient with children who need time to get comfortable with Santa.

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"The whole staff (Santa included) was overly accommodating for all of our kids, really trying to get the best picture and create the best experience possible, regardless of how much time or patience was needed to do so," Pawley said.

Here are some moving reactions to the photo:

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