Saturday, 24 February, 2018

Turtle Creek Mall host event for Autistic children

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
Carol Daniels | 05 December, 2017, 02:33

The holiday season is an exciting time, especially for children.

Smiles could be seen across children's faces as they passed Santa's Wonderland in Grapevine Mills.

The mall lights were dimmed, the music was turned off, the workshop was open before operating hours, and families scheduled in appointments to avoid waiting in line.

The goal of the gathering was to ease sensory triggers and create a more welcoming environment for children with special needs. "We've actually started very early this morning, so that we could see those children". Parents say it helps.

Sensitive Santa is held in partnership with Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

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Breanne Hartfield, a parent, says she found out about the event through Facebook and couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Jan Smith says certain noises can upset her son Caleb, so being able to skip long lines made the visit with Santa even more special. "Or sometimes Luke will just absolutely shut down and it's like he's not there - it's just too much for him". "It's just really feels great to be able to help families do something that a lot of us take for granted".

"This event allows anybody with a developmental disability who still wants to participate in the Christmas spirit and get to see Santa that opportunity that they wouldn't otherwise have", said John Nygaard, Jack's father.

"When there is a lot more people, they get a lot more nervous".

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