Santa comforts boy who’s afraid his autism put him on the naughty list

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GRANDVILLE, Mich. – A magical moment was caught on camera when Santa Clause empathized with a child with autism worried his disability would put him on the "naughty list." What the man in red did next is warming hearts across the country.

Naomi Johnson posted the story and picture to the Facebook page of RiverTown Crossings in Grandville, thanking them for everything they did to make this a special Christmas for her 6-year-old son, Landon Johnson. The picture was taken just a few days ago but really started making the rounds online in the past 24 hours. It shows Santa comforting Landon after talking about his disability. Santa even shared a special message with Landon: "It’s okay to be yourself."

Johnson posted this message to Facebook about the experience:

I had an AMAZING experience w the Santa at the RiverTown Crossings Mall and I want to share my story with you:
My child is amazing! He has his quirks and drives me bonkers, but he is amazing! The other day he went to see Santa w the cousins. He said his peace to the old man in red and walked away. While aunt Brittany waited for pictures to print, he went back to Santa bc he wanted to tell him that he has Autism. He was flapping his hands, all excited to let Santa know that he has autism.


Santa sat him next to him and took L's hands in his and started rubbing them, calming them down. Santa asked L if it bothered him, having Autism? L said yes, sometimes. Then Santa told him it shouldn't. It shouldn't bother him to be who he is. L told Santa that sometimes he gets in trouble at school and it's hard for people to understand that he has autism, and that he's not a naughty boy. Santa told L to not worry and that he has been a very good boy being who he is. They sat, and chatted for at least 5 mins. Santa payed close attention and listened to him. This just melts this momma's heart! My child is a great advocate for himself. But this day was different. He opened up to this person about who he was and he was accepted. He wasn't a science experiment, like he gets treated when most people find out he autistic. He was Landon, sitting with Santa and being told that it was ok to be himself. Mommy tells him all the time that he's special and I love him the way he was made, but it's always nice to hear it from others. To be told that it's ok to be who he is.


We have met a lot of amazing people in our Autism journey, but this one made the top of the list.
Shout out to the Santa at the RiverTown Crossings Mall. You.are.AMAZING!

After posting the photo to Facebook, Johnson received an outpouring of love and support.

“There’s actually that magic still there,” Johnson told WXMI. “That’s what everyone wants this year is that magic.”

Since it was posted Sunday, the photo of Santa and Landon has received nearly 100,000 likes and over 30,000 shares.