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Mall Santa Goes Far For Boy With Autism (Photos)

| by Daniel Rivera
Mall Santa Plays With Autistic BoyMall Santa Plays With Autistic Boy

A North Carolina mall Santa went above and beyond for a boy with autism on Nov. 22.

According to a Nov. 30 press release from Autism Speaks, the young boy's parents could not convince their son to sit on Santa's lap, so Santa instead decided to get on the floor and go to the boy.

"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," the boy's mother said.

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Maeghan Pawley, Autism Speaks Community Outreach Manager in the Southeast region, documented the touching moments in photos.

"The whole staff (Santa included) was overly accommodating for all of our kids, really trying to get the best picture and create the best experience possible, regardless of how much time or patience was needed to do so," Pawley said.

The organization partnered with the Caring Santa program for the event, which catered to children with autism and other special needs.

According to the 2015 National Health Statistics Reports, the estimated autism spectrum disorder prevalence was 2.24 percent (1 in 45) in 2014, a significant increase from 1.25 percent (1 in 80) in 2011-13.

Despite the increase, the overall prevalence of children with ASD or other developmental disabilities remained about the same: 5.30 percent in 2014 compared to 5.26 percent in 2011-13.

Sources: Autism Speaks, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Photo Credit: Autism Speaks