A Bethpage family is asking for help in granting a Christmas wish for a 10-year-old boy with autism.
Every year, Jeanie Shelton-Clyne takes her son, Michael Clyne, to see Santa. Most years, Michael whose language abilities are limited, smiles at the man in the big red suit and gives him a hug. But for the first time last month, Michael was able to tell Santa what he’d like for Christmas.
“Applepie ginger cat for Michael?” the boy asked and then excitedly pulled up the wooden toy on an iPhone.
Shelton-Clyne, 43, was shocked to see her son verbalize his request and moved to learn that he believed in Santa.
“I really didn’t know whether he understood the concept of Santa — that he brings presents,” Shelton-Clyne said Sunday. “I was so excited to see that he really believes in him.”
For months, Michael had been inquiring about the toy, a wooden cat sold by London-based company Applepie Toys. Shelton-Clyne said Michael had once seen the cat in one of his favorite videos and has since become fixated on it.
“His language is so limited and he was able to ask for this,” Shelton-Clyne said. “It would be so rewarding to be able to find this for him.”
Shelton-Clyne said she tried purchasing the toy in August for Michael’s birthday, but learned it was no longer being produced. The family has also tried looking online for a used version of the toy, but have been unable to find one.
Michael’s father, Kevin Clyne, reached out to Applepie Toys via email in August, according to Shelton-Clyne. He was told that the company would try to locate the toy, but Clyne hasn’t heard back.
Shelton-Clyne said she also sent Applepie an email a couple of weeks ago, but hasn’t yet received a response.
Last week, Joan Story, Michael’s aunt, decided to post about the family’s search for the toy on Facebook. The posts have since been shared dozens of times and Story has received Facebook messages from people across the country who say they’re on the lookout for the sandy-colored cat.
“It’s amazing to see people are so committed to trying to help him find this toy,” Shelton-Clyne said. “It’s overwhelmingly wonderful.”