Christian Anderson, 10, Lights Up State Christmas Tree with Governor Jerry Brown

KCAL9/CBS2 video interview with Christian
Governor Brown Announces 81st Annual Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Annual Tree Lighting Announcement

Christian Anderson, age 10, of Costa Mesa, California has been selected to represent the over 250,000 individuals with developmental disabilities served by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) at the 81st Annual Capitol Tree Lighting at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday, December 5.

Christian, who has a diagnosis of autism, will assist Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and First Lady Anne Gust Brown light the tree and hang a special ornament created by a person with a developmental disability.  The tree has been trimmed with over 500 hand-crafted ornaments created by children and adults with developmental disabilities who receive services and supports from the state’s developmental centers and 21 nonprofit regional centers. Christian will be accompanied to the ceremony by his parents, Brian and Lee Anderson, and siblings Patrick (16) and Brandon (17).

Christian was born December 31, 2001.  He is the youngest of three boys born to the Andersons. Christian’s brothers,  Patrick and Brandon, were also diagnosed with autism as toddlers. The Andersons noticed warning signs when Christian was an infant, enrolled him in a developmental program at 12 months and received a diagnosis of autism at 17 months.

He began receiving services through the Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC) in the Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as Early Start in California.  The Early Start program is for children and their families from birth to age three.  Early Start services are designed to support and enhance families’ capability to meet the special developmental needs of their infant or toddler with disabilities.  The earlier intervention is started, the greater the quality of life is for children with disabilities and their families.  Christian, along with Patrick and Brandon, continue to receive services through the Lanterman Developmental Disability Act.  As a result of a supportive family, their long time service coordinator and the individualized therapeutic services, all three boys continue to grow and gain confidence in their abilities and relationships.

Christian is a typical 5th grader in a regular classroom at College Park Elementary School.  Mrs. Anderson said, “Each teacher has welcomed the adventure of Christian’s presence in class.”  Christian is involved in school activities and plays the clarinet in the school band. He has followed in his brothers’ footsteps by participating in Cub Scouts, plays catcher for the Newport Beach Little League Tiger Sharks, a Challenger baseball team and participates in two Special Olympics events: the Huntington Beach Roadrunners Track and Field Team (a medalist) and the Fountain Valley Sharkwaves bowling team. Christian is a leader among his peer group and has helped his friends learn the importance of having fun and good sportsmanship.

Of his upcoming trip to Sacramento Christian said, “I am very excited to go light the tree and meet Governor Brown, and explore Sacramento.”

For more photos of the Governor’s Tree Lighting, please check out the album on our Facebook page.