‘Tis the season for the birth of Our Lord. It is always fun and joyous to visit a Nativity scene. As parents of a young adult with special needs, we’ve found that a nativity scene can be a great visual opportunity to explain clearly about the birth of Jesus and to immerse the whole family into the mystery of the Incarnation.
St. Francis of Assisi popularized the idea of setting up the Christmas crib or creche for the faithful to experience the birth of Christ in an immediate way. The idea took off and has become a cherished custom. There’s a church near us that puts on a huge Living Nativity each December with not only the birth of the Christ Child but also scenes from Jesus’ adult life drawn from the Gospels and acted out by members of the local congregation. Our family has been going to this creche for the last 20 years.
Our daughter Danielle, who has autism, loves to walk through the scenes of shepherds, angels, and of course the Holy Family in the manger at Bethlehem. She likes to comment on what she sees by using her communication device, which gives her a vocabulary that allows her to speak about this wonderful event. She can press the buttons for Mary, angel, sheep, Jesus, and baby. Danielle is completely non-verbal so it fills our hearts with joy that she has such a voice at her disposal.
Since people with autism process visual information very well, nativity scenes are a great way to teach your child about the true meaning of Christmas. You can start small by visiting a creche display at your local parish. You can even use the tiny nativity set next to your Christmas tree at home. Creches are everywhere this time of year. We found a beautiful creche while we were attending a tree lighting ceremony this year at a nearby university. It was a crisp, cold evening. Seeing the creche warmed our hearts and made all of us think about how difficult it must have been to give birth in a stable in December.
We wish you all the best during this season of good will.
Copyright 2018 David and Mercedes Rizzo