Aspie kids take all things literally.* They often have difficulty telling the difference between fantasy and reality. They have a hard time translating acceptable practices and rules from one situation to another, so they would have a hard time understanding why it's OK to pretend that Santa is real, but it's not acceptable to pretend that there's a vicious invisible dragon that follows you around and will eat people you don't like.** Trust is also an issue; it is essential that parents develop trust between themselves and their aspie kids. As they don't understand why it's fine to pretend in some situations but not others, they wouldn't understand why you the parent how lie about Santa and not lie about other things. If you lied about Santa, they are more prone than other kids to believe you lie about everything.
Just to be clear, we weren't intentional about avoiding all things Santa because of Christian's prognosis. We had scratched the jolly fat man off our holiday to do lists long before Christian received his diagnosis. Now that we know he has aspergers, that decision is a relief now knowing that we don't have to undo anything we've done in past Decembers. And never has the effects of that decision been more apparent than this past weekend.
I took Christian to the Dollar Store so that he could use his own money to pick out presents for those that will be celebrating Christmas with us. We spent an hour wandering the store, looking at the hodgepodge selection of goods. I tried my best to convince him that Grandpa doesn't need any finger traps, or that Uncle Dan probably doesn't want a ceramic ballerina figurine.
When we got to the check stand, the cashier did his best to interact with Christian. He complimented Christian for being a big boy doing his own Christmas shopping. But then he touched the Kris Kringle topic.
"Do you know what Santa is bringing you for Christmas?" the cashier asked.
"Huh?" Christian's reply.
"Santa Claus. What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?"
I had to translate. I repeated the cashiers question, omitting the Santa reference. Once it was rephrased in a way that Christian could understand, Christian rattled off his answer with exuberance. The cashier looked at me as if I was weird. I can't imagine why.
* Sometimes, I let my sarcastic side slip in light of Christian's clumsiness. After he's spilled a glass of water or accidentally knocked over a stack of books, I've said, "Good job, now you get to clean it up." And he gets mad at me every time because he made a mistake and I shouldn't tell him 'good job' when he does something bad.
** Christian understands that he's not allowed to tell his momma what I got her for Christmas. But I wanted to include him in my scheming. I gave him the instruction to tell Bekah (is she asks) that I got her a Shake Weight for Christmas. "But you didn't get her a Shake Weight," he told me. "I know," I explained, "but it would be funny if you told her that." "Why?" No mater what I said, he couldn't understand the humor behind intentional deception to make a person think you got them something they'd never want.