'Quiet' Santa Visits Children With Autism
Visiting Santa Claus at a local shopping mall is often an intimidating experience for children with autism and a herculean endeavor for their parents. The bright and dancing Christmas lights, the seemingly choking crowd of people and the noise can be very unbearable and unsettling for autistic children.
Across North America, a number of folks have taken an extra mile to make Santa more accessible to children with autism. These autism-friendly Santa initiatives make meet-and-greet with Christmas' most recognizable figure an exciting and less frightening experience.
In Colorado Springs, for example, ACI Learning Centers brought Saint Nick to a local mall where children with sensory disorders could have a quiet and enjoyable fun time with the man in red in a stress and anxiety-free environment.
"We take that extra time. If they're really unsure of coming out to visit Santa, they can come in and out several times, give him a high-five," told ACI Learning Centers CEO Nancy Champlin as quoted saying by Fox 21 News.
In North Bay, Ontario, Canada, the Autism Ontario North East runs a yearly Sensitive Santa Program where children could enjoy a quality 10-minute encounter with 'Sensitive Santa' before the Northgate Shopping Center opens streaming with people.
According to CTV News, a personal appointment the jolly bearded man in red offers parents and their children that short moment excitement minus the threatening setting of the crowd and bright lights.
"It's easier for them to focus on certain things if there are not a lot of distractions in the background and what-not," said Gary Ren as mentioned in an article by Fox 13 News.