‘What are your hands doing?’ you asked, instead of inquiring about what she wants for Christmas.’: Autism mama urges  ‘tis the season to spread awareness’ after Santa makes fun of stimming

More Stories like:

“To the Santa who made fun of my daughter’s flapping,

My kids have waited all year to sit on your coveted lap.

Excitement was bursting through their bodies.

Which is why when my daughter took a seat beside you, her hands began to flap and flutter with joy.

This is called stimming, which results from her autism.

I wouldn’t expect you to know that, but I would expect Santa Claus to be a safe place where neurological differences aren’t mimicked and put on display.

You asked me, ‘Does she always do that?’ as you removed your hands from her back and put your leather gloves in the air to give it a go.

Instead of inquiring about what she wants this year, you forced her to answer another question, ‘What are your hands doing?’ as she sat there with a blank stare.

little girl looking into the distance
Courtesy of Stephanie Hanrahan

Santa, she doesn’t know about her neurodiversity because it’s a moot point for us.

Her flapping is an expression—an extension of her beautiful, joy-filled spirit.

It’s never something to be shamed away.

Santa, I want you to know I’m not upset with you.

You’re not the first person to look at my family and snicker or stare.

But my job as her mother is to increase empathy, so ‘tis the season to spread a little awareness.

little girl in a white sweater with her mom on a carousel
Courtesy of Stephanie Hanrahan

You’re going to see a lot of kids this year.

Kids who seem fine on the surface but are actually deeply scarred from broken families or drug abused homes or a variety of disabilities that often can’t be seen.

They are coming to you because they believe in you.

So I’m begging you to do the same.

My little girl is seven.

This might be the last year she believes in your magic.

So the next time you see a child like mine who expresses her emotions with her body—consider it beautiful, not bizarre.

Maybe this world would be a better place if we all stopped masking our differences.

You are a beacon of hope, Santa.

You are someone who shows up, opens their arms, and says, ‘Come sit with me.’

That’s the gift of acceptance—something many families with autism often don’t receive.

So just remember, there’s a lot of joy in this world.

The fortunate few get to flap it out loud.”

little girl with her brother posing with a santa
Courtesy of Stephanie Hanrahan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hanrahan. Follow Stephanie on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Stephanie here:

‘My Son’s teacher recently friended me on social media. I came upon a picture of her holding a chalkboard sign that read, ‘I said YES!’ She’s already married, so it struck me as odd.’

‘I lost my capacity to bathe. Drowning, my depression took a dark, deep turn. And then came the muffins.’: Trauma survivor touched by friend’s kindness long after ‘world moved on’

Provide beauty and strength for others. SHARE this story on Facebook with your friends and family.

 Share  Tweet