For as long as we can remember, conceptualizing holiday giving for children has rested mainly on the binary ideas of naughty vs. nice. At a cursory glance, it’s a winning model: a child wants a new bike, said child refrains from fighting with their siblings or flaking on their homework and, voila, the child gets a bike and forever aims for relative decency. For many households, it’s a system that works.
For a child navigating the world with mental illness or a developmental disorder, the society-friendly concept of “naughty or nice” presents obstacles that those without any experience can’t possibly imagine. For instance, what may look like a tantrum on the outside may actually be a child with specific sensory sensitivities struggling with a beeping produce scanner. A violent outburst may be a product of a chemical imbalance that blocks impulse control. Do these children who unknowingly engage in ostensibly “naughty” behaviors not deserve a decent Christmas?
It’s a question that has Santa in the throes of an existential crisis in a new campaign from The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and W+K New York.
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