Santa signed using American Sign Language, “What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?”
I told him what I wanted, an interpreter signed for Santa and he signed, “I will make that happen soon.”
I would tell you what I told Santa, but I want it to come true really bad. I am pretty superstitious. I was told to never say your wishes so they will come true. I still believe Santa will make my dream come true.
(I obviously work with children.)
Maybe it was the spirit that filled the Sul Ross Community Center with such hope and joy that made me believe Santa. I don’t know what it was, but I felt blessed after I attended A Special Starry Night in Waco, hosted by the Waco Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities.
Everyone in attendance enjoyed live music by a local band, Broken Element, a photo booth locally owned by The Party Guys Photo Booth, games, coloring books and a real Santa (at least in my eyes and heart.) Everyone was able to communicate with each other despite their disability. There was an interpreter at the event all night to translate conversations between the people who are deaf and the people who do not know ASL.
Kelly Yarbrough, chair and coordinator of the Waco Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, said this was the first time they threw a Christmas celebration for every community member with a disability and she hopes it becomes an annual tradition.
I really hope so, too!
These types of events are the ones that make huge impacts on our lives, if you allow them to. They are the events that create memories and special experiences for everybody.
I met a young teenager diagnosed with Autism at the event. I saw him wearing a blue sweatshirt sitting by himself on a bench right outside the dance room. I sat next to him because I made eye contact with him. Yes! I made eye contact with him! I caught his eye gaze. To be honest, I was trying really hard to catch his eye gaze.
“I’m sorry,” he said to me.
I asked why and sat next to him. He turned away and looked at the floor.
“I’m sorry I made you come here,” he said.
“You don’t have to say sorry. I’m glad I came and sat next to you. I wanted to come sit next to you,” I told the young boy, hoping he’d believe my honest words. He smiled, but kept saying sorry.
I asked him for his name, introduced myself and shook his hand for less than a second before he pulled his arm back.
He was a sweet kid, but I got the impression he felt a little uncomfortable. I smiled at him and wished him a great night.
Children with Autism like to be alone but somehow feel apart without really being a part of the action. I’m sure the loud music, number of people and unknown faces was a little overwhelming but not to the point where he did not want anything to do with the event. He still involved himself in his own way.
I knew the young teenager was happy to be there. I knew he felt the spirit within the room that gave him courage to speak to a stranger. That was my first encounter with him, but believe me, I was so proud of him. I hope he felt the same way.