Children With Special Needs Can Create Sensory-Free Memories With Santa This Christmas

Malia Wooten Malia Wooten

Children With Special Needs Can Create Sensory-Free Memories With Santa This Christmas

Cherry Hill Programs is teaming up Autism Speaks to spread holiday cheer by bringing families Santa Cares!

Thanks to a partnership called Santa Cares, children with special needs and autism will have the chance to meet Mr. Saint Nick without all of the stressful hustle and bustle of holiday crowds. The Santa Cares program will offer dimmer lights, softer music, and will provide helpful accommodations for those who may be overwhelmed or overly sensitive to sensory stimulation.

All families with children who have autism or any other special needs will be invited to celebrate a popular Christmas tradition in an environment that will tailor to their comfort levels. In a press release, organizers say that the Santas have been trained to interact with children who have autism and will be on the lookout for cues from parents and caregivers who understand the child’s preferences.

“Most of all, Santa remains flexible, standing behind his chair or kneeling beside a wheelchair to capture unforgettable moments and smiles on camera,” said Ruth Rosenquist, marketing and PR director for Cherry Hill Programs.

Photo by Cherry Hill Programs

There are a number of events happening throughout the city, like a Sensory-Friendly Santa meet-and-greet at the Westfield Culver City mall on Sunday, December 15. People of all ages and abilities will be invited to meet with Santa before the mall opens and holiday shoppers arrive, to make for a more subdued and calm environment. The visits are free and will offer keepsake photo packages for purchase on-site.

Valerie Paradiz, the Vice President of Services and Supports at Autism Speaks, says “Our goal is to create a more inclusive world for people with autism, and events like this make such a meaningful impact in helping families feel comfortable, understood and accepted.”

Find sensory-friendly events near you, here!

Featured photo: Cherry Hill Programs

Also published on Medium.

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