A Florida family has cause for celebration, and it’s not just because of the holidays.
Marisabel Figueroa has taken her daughter, Kaitlyn DeJesus, to see their neighbourhood’s Christmas lights in Mulberry, Fla., for a decade now.
They always stop to admire neighbour Don Weaver’s home, which boasts 100,000 festive lights in his yard accompanied by festive music.
The 13-year-old was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she was three, according to Today. DeJesus was also nonverbal — until last weekend.
That night, they were making their typical holiday light-show rounds when something very special happened.
“She got up from the chair and started singing,” Figueroa told Today. “She said, ‘Mom! Look at the blue lights. Look at the snowmen. Santa’s coming!’ I started crying. I couldn’t believe it.”
It was the first time she’d heard her own daughter speak, and Figueroa is hopeful that it won’t be the last.
“It’s like a miracle to me to hear my daughter’s voice,” she told Bay News 9.
Doctors did not expect DeJesus to ever be able to speak.
“The neurologist who saw Kaitlyn said she was going to be non-verbal for all of her life,” Figueroa, a single mom who works as a manager at a local McDonald’s, explained to Today. “I refused to accept that.”
Weaver puts a special chair out for DeJesus every year.
“Our usual routine is to go after 6 when it gets dark,” Figueroa told Today. “Mr. Weaver puts down a special chair just for Kaitlyn and she sits there, dancing and tapping her feet.”
Inspired by the beauty of Weaver’s light display, DeJesus danced, tapped, her feet, sang along to music and pointed out all of the things she saw.
“I just cry, because listening to her point out a bunch of stuff, like the blue lights, the snowman, Santa Claus,” Figueroa said. “It’s just so rewarding to me.
“This is my best Christmas gift.”