As Christmas nears, parents pack school auditoriums around the city for holiday plays, talent shows and recitals.

At the New York City Autism Charter School, it's no different.

The Harlem campus of the charter serves 40 students on the autism spectrum.

Every student studies music, including the piano.

They all got an opportunity to perform for their families at this holiday recital.

"You get to see that your child can do what other normal kids do on a normal basis. A parent that deals with a child that has special needs, these are the fears you have once they are diagnosed, that they won't be able to experience any of the things that a normal child does," said Ivelizzette Roldan, a parent.

The students have varying levels of musicianship, but teacher Eileen Buck guides them along. Some read music; others match colors on the keys to colors she shows them.

"They look forward to it every year. Every activity they have in the school, they look forward to," said Aurora Martin, a parent.

For students, the recital is an opportunity to shine in front of their loved ones and their classmates.

"The event is very important for the families and the kids, because it brings a sense of accomplishment for the children. We all like to accomplish something and show it to our families and friends and usually typical kids they get a chance to do that. I think it’s important to have it also in this community," said piano teacher Eileen Buck.

"I liked when everyone clapped for me," said one student.

"Me too!" said another.

Rafael DeJesus played "You've Got a Friend in Me." He chose the song because it's featured in the Toy Story movies.

"It felt absolutely wonderful. I have to say it was the most wonderful experience. It can be a little nervous, but when you believe in yourself you can make it a reality," said Rafael DeJesus.

It's not only students who look forward to the event all year, so do the teachers.

"It's the greatest day. It's the best event on the calendar," said Julie Fisher, Executive Director of NYC Autism Charter Schools.

Students don't just get the chance to play.

They also get to experience applause, the silent version for the students who are sensitive to sounds.

And each child gets to take a bow, many beaming as their parents are, too.