Jim and I are grandparents who have legal custody of our 11 year old granddaughter Katie Davis. Katie has lived with us since birth and was born with multiple physical disabilities and mental delays due to a defective chromosome condition called De George Syndrome. She has glaucoma, heart problems and mental delays. Now at the age of 11, she functions at about the level of a 5 year old. She also has many emotional issues typical of autism although she has not been diagnosed with that disorder. Regardless, she has the same difficulties and she suffers from much anxiety, especially social anxiety.
A few years ago we found out about the Caring Santa program that the Autism Society sponsors. We thought we would try taking Katie to this as we had not had luck at any other special holiday events for typically developing children. Katie could not tolerate the noise and confusion of those hectic events. It was a relief to bring her to Caring Santa where we knew we had the support for kids like her. The Mall was closed to the public and she functioned much better there.
Katie wouldn’t sit on Santa’s lap, but she did wave at him and he gave her a wonderful “thumbs up” as she shouted what she wanted for Christmas to him. With much difficulty, we got her on the train ride there (one of the highlights of the event to her). There was much screaming and drama getting her on the train with Grandpa, but I felt much more comfortable dealing with that in a supportive environment. I wouldn’t have dared do that on a normal day in the Mall. It all worked out extremely well. Within one minute of getting on the train, she was all smiles and screaming now, not with anxiety, but with excitement and pleasure.
I have proof of this all on video and Katie often watches it along with other pictures I took of this event. She is now looking forward to going back to the Mall to see the Easter Bunny and ride the train again in a few months.
Thank you Autism Society for sponsoring this wonderful event! It’s a long drive for us from Hiram, but totally worth it for our little Katie.