This Santa understands kids with autism...because he has it, too

Rebecca Dube


Kerry Magro will always remember the first time he met Santa — and it’s not a happy memory.

Things were fine, and then the flash on the camera threw 6-year-old Kerry, who has autism, into sensory overload.

He jumped up, clapped his hands over his ears and started twirling furiously in circles.

His parents decided that a crowded mall was not the best environment for Kerry, and that was the end of his Santa visits.

“It was sad for me,” Magro, now 30, recalls. “I thought, why are those other kids able to do this, and not me? I didn’t have any friends, and I was really trying to find that connection.” He felt like he’d let himself down, and worse, that he’d let Santa down.

Fast forward a couple decades to December, 2018. Another child with autism walks up to Santa. She jumps around, strokes Santa’s gloves, and touches Santa’s mouth when he says “Ho, ho, ho.”

But this time it’s OK. Santa understands. Because this time, Magro is Santa.

Now an activist, speaker and educator about autism, Magro stepped into Santa’s big black boots six years ago. He clarifies that he cleared his role with the North Pole — the real Santa gave Magro his blessing to be a helper. Now he’s making Christmas dreams come true.

“There’s a lot of joy,” said Magro, who played Santa at Cornerstone Montclair in New Jersey earlier this month. “It’s a labor of love.”

Read full article here


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