Parents of children who have a Sensory Integration Dysfunction disorder, or an Autism Spectrum Disorder, could find a trip to the mall to visit Santa to be more than they can tolerate. Instead of opting out of this delightful Christmas tradition, you may want to locate a “Sensory Friendly” Santa.
Here is a quick list of some places that will be holding Santa events for kids who have sensory issues. There might be one near you!
On Sunday, December 4, 2011, there will be a free holiday event for special needs children at the Children’s Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. This is offered as a collaborative effort between The Children’s Museum of the Low County and Family Connection of South Carolina. Kids can make a craft, enjoy some cookies and cocoa, and visit with Santa.
The Huntington Mall, in Barboursville, West Virginia, has a “Sensitive Santa” every Saturday from 9:00 in the morning until 11:00 in the morning. “Sensitive Santa” will also be available on Tuesdays from 5:30 in the evening, until 6:30 in the evening. This will continue up until December 20, 2011. Bright lights, loud sounds, and large crowds will be eliminated, so kids with sensory issues, or an ASD can visit with Santa.
Price Portraits in South Charleston, West Virginia, will be offering “Sensitive Santa” portraits on December 4, 2011. This is available for children who have autism, or other special needs. That photo package usually would cost around $300, but will be given for free that day.
The Oxford Valley Mall, in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is setting aside certain hours for kids with special needs to visit with Santa. This will take place on December 4, 2011, from 9:00 in the morning, until 11:00 in the morning.
Santa will meet exclusively with kids who have physical, sensory, or developmental disabilities. Camera flashed will be dimmed. Kids with autism will be able to engage in a “social story” to prepare them for an interaction with Santa.
You can find a “Caring Santa” event at several malls. Kids who have sensory, physical, or developmental needs can meet with Santa, and have their photos taken. This is being done through The Noerr Programs.
These events will take place at:
Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California, (9:00 in the morning to 11:00 in the morning)
North East Mall near Fort Worth, Texas, (from 10:00 in the morning until noon).
Burlington Mall in Burlington Massachusetts, (from 9:00 in the morning until 11:00 in the morning).
Town Center at Cobb, near Atlanta, Georgia, (from 10:00 in the morning until noon)
Image by Matti Mattila on Flickr