Have you struggled to get your autistic child to take a picture with Santa? Does the whole experience just seem like it would be too much for them, so you avoid the whole thing all together? Wouldn’t it be great if you could reduce all of the lights and noise and have a “Sensory Friendly” visit with Santa? This is one wish on your list that you can have. Autism Speaks, a major organization supporting families with autistic children, is providing exactly that.
Sensory Friendly Santa Is Coming To Your Area!
For the past few years, there has been a growing number of Sensory Friendly Santa events popping up all over the country. This year, Autism Speaks has joined with Cherry Hill Programs, a specialized photography company, in order to provide families in hundreds of locations in North America with the opportunity to meet Santa Claus, without the meltdowns. Time periods have been set aside for special needs children to make their visit happen with fewer sensory triggers, as well as a smaller number of people.
Parents can sign up online for a visit in a location nearby. Mall locations and dates for the events across the United States are provided on the Autism Speaks website. Admission to the event is free of charge, and professional pictures will be available for sale on site. You must register your visit in advance, as there are a limited number of spots available at each location. This is to make sure that there are no long waits for any special needs family.
Other Sensory Friendly Holiday Events
Smaller, local autism related groups throughout the country also make an effort this time of year to include children in traditions like this one. In addition to that, some companies offer special events that are designed to be comfortable for autistic people. For example, The New York City Children’s Theater is hosting a Sensory Friendly performance called “My First Nutcracker” in the beginning of December. Parents can search online for other events happening in their local areas that will be enjoyable and stress-free for their little ones who struggle with sensitive eyes and ears on a regular basis.
Sensory overload is a common issue in children with autism. Something as common as going to the mall can cause major stress for an autistic child and his or her parents. The lights, the noise, the crowds of people, and the music, can become very overwhelming in only a short time. Add the stress of meeting someone famous like Santa Claus, waiting in line, sitting on someone’s lap, and posing for pictures, and it is a recipe for a disaster. These Sensory Friendly Santa events, and programs like it, reduce all of the extras so that it will be much easier for children who are on the autism spectrum to be included in common yearly traditions in an uncommon way.
Autism Speaks has been working to help this community since being founded in 2005. The goal of every effort this group makes is to help the world better understand and accept autistic people. They work hard to improve the research and early detection of autism. They are working on helping teens move on into adulthood more smoothly as well. This holiday program is just one of the ways that this organization is trying to include the autistic community without forcing them to fit into the typical mold society might expect. Through events like this, parents can enjoy their children just as much as others this holiday season and beyond. Don’t forget to book your Sensory Friendly Santa visit in your local area!