It is widely understood that those with autism may experience light sensitivity, but that has never been the case with Alex Skaftouros, 21. On the contrary, despite being on the spectrum, he has felt dazzled by lights and he’s always looked forward to Christmas.
His fascination has grown over the years as has his collection of Christmas lights, which draw crowds from around the neighbourhood to Tennyson Street, Highett, just to see his creative colourful display. In recent years, he thought he’d put his efforts to good use and added a donation tin to gather money for Autism Australia.
“I started putting lights up more than 17 years ago,” he told Neos Kosmos. “Other people were doing it, and that’s what made me start.”
His enthusiasm for the lights grew when he got a job at Coles and was able to purchase decorations with his own savings. Seeing his enthusiasm, family members and friends joined in by offering more lights. Some were purchased online, others at Bunnings and Kmart, and each year the display gets larger and more creative.
“More and more people come every year. It makes people happy, and that is why I like Christmas,” he said.
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“I decided that it would be good to help kids with Autism because I have that too.”
Last year, Alex raised $500 and he hopes to earn even more this year.
His sister Jassmine Skaftouros, a primary school teacher, has been a great supporter of Alex’s efforts. So much so that she got her students involved in making signs to encourage donations.
“Some of them aren’t Christians and don’t celebrate Christmas, but they are happy to be involved in such a good cause,” she said.
Do you share Alex’s love of lights? Send pictures of your house to email@example.com and we’ll include them in our gallery and create a Christmas lights map.