Although the expression “be who you are” is such a simple one that can be said by anybody to anyone, especially younger children coming of age and finding themselves in the world, a Michigan mall Santa made those words go viral when he said them to an young autistic boy.
Reports from Detroit state that Grandville, Michigan mother Naomi Johnson commended the unnamed mall Santa, who was working at the RiverTown Crossings Mall. Johnson’s son Landon, whose age wasn’t stated, felt that the fact he is autistic would put him on Santa’s naughty list, but as it turned out, Jolly Old St. Nick didn’t think of Landon as naughty at all. The man’s simple message of “be who you are” was shared by Johnson on Facebook, and re-shared by close to 60,000 users as of earlier in the week.
“He went back to Santa (because) he wanted to tell him that he has Autism,” wrote Johnson. “He was flapping his hands (a classic feature of autism), all excited to let Santa know that he has autism.”
“Santa sat him next to him and took L’s (Landon’s) hands in his and started rubbing them, calming them down,” Johnson added, talking about the message and how it was conveyed by the mall Santa. “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.”