Polk Co. Christmas display inspires nonverbal girl with autism to speak

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MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Polk County mom calls it a Christmas miracle.

Marisabel Figueroa Lopez says the lights and music on her neighbor’s elaborate holiday display helped her non-verbal daughter with autism start to speak out for the first time.

The 200,000 synchronized lights set to music have given her a million reasons to be thankful.

“For me, it is a Christmas miracle,” Figueroa Lopez said.

Her 13-year-old daughter Kaitlyn was diagnosed with autism at three years old. Doctors said she’d never speak.

Every year, Kaitlyn spends countless hours in silence under the lights of their neighbor Don Weaver’s incredible display. But last week, something changed. Kaitlyn started to describe the decorations.

“And then she jumped up and said “Santa! Santa is coming!” Figueroa Lopez said.

Even just hearing those few words were music to her ears. Figueroa Lopez was left speechless.

“I was trying to catch my breath,” she explained. “Because it was the first time that I have heard my daughter’s voice.”

“It’s just been unbelievable seeing the changes in her from last year to this year,” neighbor Don Weaver said.

Figueroa Lopez thanks her neighbor from the bottom of her heart, for giving her family the ultimate Christmas gift.

“To hear her speak, it just gives me hope,” Figueroa Lopez said. “Today it’s 2-3 words, tomorrow it could be a sentence. A year from now it could be a whole conversation.”

Ellen Degeneres caught wind of Kaitlyn’s Christmas miracle and has invited her and her mom to California to appear on the show.

If you’d like to visit Weaver’s light display yourself, the address is 3832 Marquise Lane in Mulberry.

Saturday, Dec. 21, from 6-10 p.m. will be Hot Chocolate night. You and your family can come out, see the light show, grab a cup of hot chocolate and meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

The lights are on every night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Dec. 31.

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