Many people look forward to Hallmark’s lineup of Christmas movies each year. In 2021, it will be a little more inclusive.
For the first time, one of Hallmark’s holiday films will include a character on the autism spectrum. The Christmas Bond tells the story of a single mom and her teenage son with autism. The two come to a crossroads at Christmas, and the mother must “learn to let go so he can flourish and finds her own heart healing in unexpected ways,” according to a plot description.
The stars of the film are Holly Robinson Peete, whose son RJ has autism, and Nik Sanchez, who is also on the spectrum.
In an Instagram post, Peete said, “I am dedicating this movie to my son RJ, and others with autism and their families. I am grateful to @hallmarkchannel for bringing this story to screen with authenticity, respect and hope.”
RJ, now 23, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Peete and her husband have been advocates for the autism community ever since, especially through their HollyRod Foundation. It provides support and resources to families with children on the spectrum.
Peete also opened up about RJ’s diagnosis in an interview with People in 2007, which she says was before many people were really speaking out about autism awareness. In that interview, she spoke about how difficult things were at first and the progress RJ had made.
In 2018, she chatted with People again about the impact the article had.
She said, “I remember after the article came out, this family came up to us at Disneyland and they had two daughters with autism and they said it made them feel more hopeful. I started crying, because this is why we did this. When RJ was diagnosed we didn’t have anything like that as a role model.”
She also gushed about her son, saying he was doing all these things she’d been told he wouldn’t be able to do. He’d also gotten his “dream job” as a clubhouse attendant with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For his part, Nik Sanchez also spoke about how happy he was to be involved in The Christmas Bond.
In an Instagram post, he said, “I am so excited to be a part of this movie! I can’t wait for everyone to see it! It’s going to be amazing!”
The film will debut at the end of this year as part of Hallmark’s “Miracles of Christmas” lineup.