A nine-year-old who is autistic and non-verbal shocked his family when he whispered “Ho ho ho” while looking at Christmas decorations.

Tommy Hunt, nine has autism and while he can communicate with his iPad and make sounds, he’s doesn’t speak.

But when his carer Caroline Faley, 36, took him out to look at outdoor Christmas light displays, he proved to everyone he can speak and read when he uttered ‘ho ho ho’.

The happy lad pointed up to the string of twinkly lights on top of a house which spelled out ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and whispered the words out loud.

Caroline was filming the outing to show his dad James, 40, so the moment and her heartwarming reaction was captured on camera for all to see.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Dad-of-two James, from Burnham-on-Crouch described the moment as “incredible” and “overwhelming”.

He explained that Tommy’s autism means he struggles with sounds, but he enjoys visual sensory things such as twinkly lights,

He said: “When I saw the video, I was so overwhelmed.

“He doesn’t really understand Christmas but it was great to see him having such a good time.

“Often when you try to communicate with Tommy you get little or no reaction and it’s hard to know if he takes things in, so for him to read that sign then say ‘Ho Ho Ho’ without any prompting is incredible.

James said Christmas is usually a “tough time” for Tommy as it can disrupt his usual routine but this moment has shown him just how clever his son is.

He said: “Because he doesn’t speak, it can be hard to know how well he can read - but this has shown me he’s even cleverer than I thought he was.

“Christmas can be a really tough time for Tommy as it disrupts his regular routine, so it’s lovely to see him enjoying the Christmas experience.

“I’m so glad the moment was caught on camera, because it was so lovely to see - especially after the year we’ve all had.”

In the video, Tommy, who normally communicates using an iPad, can be seen wearing ear defenders as he marvels at the display in Benfleet.

James runs a blog and an Instagram page called ‘Stories About Autism’ about Tommy and his older brother Jude, 12.