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First Christmas wish for boy with autism comes true after search for discontinued toy

Posted at 9:25 AM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-28 09:25:21-05

BETHPAGE, NY (WCBS/CNN) – When a 10-year-old boy with autism in New York made his first Christmas request to Santa Claus, his family turned to the elves online to make the boy’s wish come true.

Michael Clyne, 10, rarely speaks to strangers, but when he recently sat on Santa’s lap at a holiday event, his mom says the boy, who has autism, made it clear what he wanted for Christmas.

"As soon as Michael saw Santa, he said, ‘apple pie ginger cat,’ and started to Google the image to show Santa,” said Michael’s mother, Jeanie Shelton-Clyne.

The 10-year-old’s love of the “apple pie ginger cat” began the moment he saw it in an online video, and he’s been repeating the wooden pull toy’s name ever since.

Amazed Michael would even speak to Santa, the family immediately began searching for the toy in hopes of putting one in the boy’s Christmas stocking.

They were horrified to learn the toy was no longer being sold. The London-based manufacturer, Applepie Toys, stopped making it 10 years ago.

But Michael’s family wasn’t about to give up.

"He made his first official request to Santa Claus, so I was like, ‘OK, this has to happen. We have to figure this out,’” said Michael’s aunt, Joan Story.

Friends suggested hiring an artist to create their own version of the ginger cat, but the family preferred to let Santa do his job – via some helpful elves on social media.

"When he showed it to Santa, to me it was like, ‘He thinks Santa is the solution,’” Shelton-Clyne said.

Santa and the elves came through: a toy company employee in California had a ginger cat he’d be happy to give to Michael.

“I believe. I definitely believe. Never stop believing in Santa,” Shelton-Clyne said.

Michael’s mom says now they just have to keep the secret until Christmas Day, but she doubts Michael will be surprised because he never doubted Santa would come through.

Copyright 2017 WCBS, Applepie Toys via CNN. All rights reserved.