Every year, kids across the country get extra excited to hop onto Santa’s lap and have their picture taken after telling St. Nick what they want for Christmas. But for many children living with autism, visiting Santa can be challenging and even frightening. Thanks to a partnership between Autism Speaks and Cherry Hill Programs this year, kids with autism will be given a special chance to visit Santa without all the hustle and bustle that may otherwise overwhelm them.
The program is called “Santa Cares” and is launching at 582 shopping centers and malls all across the US with 747 specially trained Santas this holiday season. The programming will including opening malls earlier than usual, dimming lights, playing soothing music at a lower volume than usual, and tweaking the traditional interaction with the big man himself.
Santa will lay on the floor or even stand behind his chair all in an effort to create a more comfortable experience for kids. In addition, Santa will be taking cues on how to engage with their children. Not all kids will want to sit on his lap for a photo and that is totally ok. But even cooler? The Santas will receive special training to help them understand how to interact with kids who have sensory disabilities.
The holiday season is a special time filled with so many opportunities to experience some magic so when we can all work together to help kids with autism experience the same joys but without being overwhelmed then it makes this time of year even more magical. Talk about a fantastic program!
For a list of upcoming Santa Cares events at a mall or shopping center near you, and to reserve a ticket, check out the even list here.
More About Autism:
- How I Knew My Daughter Had Autism, Even Before Her Doctors Did
- Autism Moms: The World Is Not Ready For Our Kids to Grow Up
- Raising a Daughter With Autism Has Made Me a Better Mom