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The Day My Son on the Autism Spectrum Met Santa's Helper at the Pool

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My son, who is on the autism spectrum, had his weekly swimming lesson. This happens in an indoor pool of a hotel during a weekday and like most weeks, we were not expecting anyone else to be in the pool. We walked in and saw another family in there. A mom, shuffling through some papers in a corner, a young girl lazing off in a small Jacuzzi and a boy, almost my son’s age having fun in the pool. Like most of the times, I didn’t expect another child to interact with my son, let alone greet him, but this turned out to be different. He came out of the pool and said hi to my son, asked him his name and smiled at him. My heart was already warming up. My son replied softly, so I repeated his words.

By then the swimming coach had arrived and we went ahead with our session. For a few weeks, the coach had been struggling with getting my son to dip his head underwater. It seemed to stress him out, so he reached out and grabbed the little boy swimming close to him. I ran up to apologize when I noticed the boy instead of getting upset, was actually modeling for my son and telling him how to go underwater. To my and the coach’s utter surprise, my son followed, not once, not twice but three times, every time, following the example of the little boy.

Everyone in the room cheered and clapped and got excited. For a moment, I forgot those cheering for my son were complete strangers! The session continued and the boy swam next to my son, chatting with him, instructing him and modeling for him. Never before had I seen my son be so excited at a swimming lesson. I just wanted to stand there and watch while my eyes brimmed with tears of joy! As we finished the session, that little boy came up to me and said, “Please tell him that he did a great job! He will learn how to swim very soon.” I said a quiet Amen to that and suppress my urge to give that boy a tight hug, just thanking him for all he did.

I’m used to my son passing unnoticed among kids, sitting in a corner on his own, with no other kids bothering to play with him. I also notice the longing in my son’s eyes to be a part of the group.

The smile and the joy that 20 minutes of companionship brought to my son is priceless, and the little boy might not realize it, but he brought with him a sparkle of miracle to light up an ordinary day of my son’s life.

Santa’s helpers sometimes come to the pool wearing swimming trunks and ready to share the joy!

Getty image by asikkk

Originally published: December 23, 2018
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