Friday, December 15, 2017

Autism and Sensitive Santa

For many children with autism, Christmas can be an extremely overwhelming time of the year. Sensitive Santa could be the solution many parents have been searching for!

When you combine the massive crowds of people shopping, the noise, and lights, it can be a traumatic and terrifying experience for young children with autism and other sensory conditions. Many parents of young children with sensory conditions and autism wish they could capture that perfect photo with Santa, but crowded malls and shopping centers make that wish extremely difficult.

Some shopping centers and shopping malls have gone above and beyond to provide parents with a sensitive Santa experience that they may treasure for years to come. Westfield shopping centers are offering sensitive Santa experiences outside of normal shopping hours. For the sensitive Santa experience, they dim the lighting and turn off any loud music. When you reduce the noise, lighting, and remove the large crowds, many younger children are much better at handling the photo with Santa at Christmas.

For eight-year-old Liam, going to a shopping center, especially at Christmas time, can be an overwhelming experience. “Christmas crowds are just a massive overload; the bright lights, loud noises, high-pitched sounds all become a very distressing and upsetting situation,” Liam's mother Amy Palmer explained.

I got a photo of all three of my kids with Santa, and I just walked out of there crying because I finally had a Christmas photo to be proud of.” And for Liam, he was excited to be able to meet Santa. “What meant the most to me was that Liam, for the first time, was able to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, and that was just the best feeling in the world for me,” Ms. Palmer said.

For many families with young children that have autism, it’s the regular things like trips to shopping centers for photos with Santa that can prove to be the most difficult. It’s initiatives like the sensitive Santa program and other programs which can make the holiday season a little more hassle-free.

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