Families with autistic children are often presented with difficulties in typical social situations.

An uncontrolled environment, with noise and possible stressful interaction, can be intimidating for an autistic child, rendering some activities very challenging.

One such example is a visit to Father Christmas, as the Father Christmas in question may, understandably, not know how to interact with a child with autism.

Erin Deely, mum to three-year-old Brayden, who has autism, has assumed that a visit to see Santa, a rite of childhood for many, was off limits for her son.

She told People:

I thought we would never get those holiday pictures with him because it's something he can't handle – the noise, and the pressure. He gets anxious if you ask him to smile, it's all too much for him.

On 22 November, however, Erin, 36, took Brayden to SouthPark mall in Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit a special ‘Caring Santa’.

Caring Santa is a programme that provides special needs families with a visit catered to the needs of the child.

Brayden was feeling very shy, but it was no problem. Father Christmas knew to get on the ground and begin playing with Brayden’s toys to make him feel more comfortable in the situation.

(Picture: Autism Speaks)

The result was a heartwarming day for the Deely family, alongside some photographs they can cherish forever.

Erin said:

Oh my gosh, to be able to do something that other families do...normally a lot of things are harder for us as a family and we got to do the same tradition as everyone else, we just do it on the floor.

Erin said of Father Christmas:

I just want to hug this man. He's so wonderful!

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