Monday, 11 December, 2017

Children with special needs meet Santa at University Park Mall

Autism Society of Alaska hosts alternative to the overwhelming experience of sitting on Santa's lap Special needs kids get to meet Santa at Bay Park Square Mall
Jerome Frank | 05 December, 2017, 02:32

Before the mall opened, they hosted Sensitive Santa, an event geared toward children with disabilities that cause them to struggle with noisy and crowded environments.

"What a lot of people don't understand is that with special needs children, some of them have never visited or sat with Santa", says mall general manager Stacy Woodard.

While it appears the Caring Santa events in Houston wrapped for the season, other locations across Texas and the country still have availability.

"I'm always appreciative of any type of event or anything that specifies time for special needs because it is a lot harder than people realize and it's nice to have a little help", said Jan Smith, whose son also has special needs. The report says it's unknown who took the full Santa Claus suit and an extra hat from a back room at the mall. "It's just special because we create a sensory friendly environment for these children without the lights, music, and different faces".

Vanessa Avila brought her daughter and her non-verbal four year old son, Nathan. He gets overstimulated with the crowds.

"It's very important", said Santa "I mean, that's what Christmas is all about". She says the first time the large crowds and long lines were too much for Jaden.

Woodard says this is the first year the mall has had the event on their property and they plan to do it again next year. "To be able to share that with fellow Autism families, a director of Autism support group in Hattiesburg, so we were very excited to see that they had thought of us, and allotted the time for us to see Santa", Stephanie said.

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