'It was pretty magical': Santa Claus helps blind boy with autism feel the Christmas spirit
FORT WORTH, Texas – A Texas mom says her 6-year-old son met "the real Santa" last week at a Fort Worth sporting goods store.
Matthew Foster is blind, has autism and hates posing for pictures, but he's really interested in Santa, his mom, Misty Wolf, told CNN. Wolf said she wanted to get to the Cabela's store early to avoid the crowds and minimize the stares if Matthew or his 20-month-old sister Lilly had a meltdown.
The plan worked and they were able to walk right up to see Santa.
Wolf said Matthew does talk, but he doesn't interact with people unless he feels comfortable with them.
"Santa had his trust right away," she said. "I keep saying that he met the real Santa. That was the real Santa for Matthew."
When Wolf whispered to Santa to explain Matthew's condition, he raised his hand and said "say no more."
"He knew exactly what to do," she said. "He was just so good at getting through to Matthew and letting Matthew have that learning experience."
Santa walked over and knelt next to Matthew and invited him to touch his coat, its buttons and his hat and explained what he was feeling. He got in the floor, so Matthew would be more comfortable and carried him over to a taxidermied animal in the display to touch its antlers.
Santa even let Matthew pull on his beard.
"It was pretty magical," she said.
"Twas the Night Before Christmas" is one of Matthews favorite books and he knows it by heart. When Santa asked whether he wanted to touch anything else, Matthew quoted the poem and asked to feel "your eyes that twinkle," his mom said.
Wolf feared that the magical moment would end when Santa asked Matthew to sit with him for a picture, so she was blown away when he agreed.
"I was just waiting for the meltdown at that point and as soon as he said yes, my jaw just dropped," she said. "His sister gave the Grinch face, but this time around Matthew was actually looking at the camera and head up and everything. I need Santa in my life for family pictures."
Wolf wasn't sure how long Santa spent with her family, but guesses it was about 10 minutes. She kept looking back at the growing line to see if people were giving her dirty looks, but no one seemed to mind.
CNN affiliate KTVT talked to the Santa, who said that every child's visit is special to him.
"You relate to the child and what the child needs," Santa said. "He has never seen the world the way we have seen the world."
Those few minutes had a big impact on Matthew and she says he's been asking questions and talking about the encounter all week.
"You only get to see Santa once a year, so it's nice to be able to actually enjoy that moment and make it an experience like he had," she said.