12/04/2014 05:57 EST | Updated 02/03/2015 05:59 EST

What Message Is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Sending Our Kids?

When my aspiring 14 year old author-to-be client suggested that he wanted to write an article on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and how it "sucked" from the point of view of himself, someone with autism and his mom, I said: "Yes!"

My client's first draft was basically his take on the story and I loved it. When I showed it to my wife, she was filled with horror that someone had been "pooping on her beloved Rudolph". I suggested to my young author that he preface the story with a bit about himself for context and I asked him to give us the version of the story he would have preferred at the end.

The rest is all him. Enjoy!

When my mom and me first watched Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, we had a very different view of it than most people. As being one of the people on the autistic spectrum, some things that others find enjoyable I see in a very negative way. However, certain things that are perceived unpleasant to some, are the very same things that I see the beauty and genius of.

Most people think that Rudolph the red nosed reindeer is an innocent Christmas tale, however I think that it is sending a very bad message to children.

The story starts out with a reindeer born with a nose dysfunction that causes him to be considered a misfit. Immediately when Rudolph is born, his parents feel ashamed by his nose, and Santa Claus threatens that if Rudolph's nose doesn't change, he will not make the sleigh team.

Because of Santa's threat, Rudolph's parents become scared and try to hide Rudolph's nose so that he would make the sleigh team. Of course, Rudolph did not like the nose-hiding and was forced to keep it a secret, and whenever he complained about the discomfort, his father would scold him and demand that he be normal like every other reindeer. However, Rudolph's parents can't keep his nose a secret forever, and when his nose is found, all of the reindeers make fun of him because of it. Even the drill sergeant says to Rudolph's father "You should be ashamed of yourself." and "What a pity. He had a nice takeoff too." Eventually, Santa Claus discovers that Rudolph's nose can be used to lead him through the snowstorm to deliver the presents to waiting children. He asks Rudolph if he can drive his sled through the snowstorm.

At this point in the story, instead of fighting Santa and demanding for the abuse to end, Rudolph gives in and lets Santa exploit him for an even further extent of time. After that, Rudolph is treated nicely as long as he lets himself be exploited for years to come and the story ends on that bombshell.

The story clearly suggests that dysfunctional people are ok for society as long as we can find a way to use or exploit them for our own personal gain.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer represents how in the past, people with dysfunctions had been exploited for others' gains. This story suggests that if people with dysfunctions don't exploit themselves to others, they are sitting about and being useless and lazy.

Ken: If this story were to be different, what would you change?

Rudolph would still be born with his nose dysfunction, and it would stay with him for his lifetime. The difference would be that Santa Claus wouldn't threaten Rudolph's parents the way he had, by saying his being on the sleigh team was at stake because of his nose. Rudolph, growing up, would be made fun of by some, ignored by others, avoided by a few, and accepted by even less. He would have a couple of close friends, and the rest bystanders, or bullies.

Rudolph's parents wouldn't have had to act the way they did out of fear, and hide Rudolph's nose. Santa Claus would gather the reindeer and teach them about Rudolph's nose. He would explain that Rudolph is different but should be treated equally and accepted. Then, when nature strikes and the snowstorm hits, Rudolph offers to drive the sleigh for Santa, not because Santa is his master, but to pay Santa back for helping him and teaching the community. Christmas is saved, and the children get their desired material things from Santa.

So to all those upset with me messing with your memories of Rudolph -

Words of wisdom: not everything is what it seems. So thinks differently about your next dysfunctional reindeer.

Merry Christmas.

Stephen Claus

For more information on out-of-the-box ways to help teens and young adults with Autism, go to


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