Coastal Grand Mall holds first ever sensory friendly holiday event

Autism Society of Alaska hosts alternative to the overwhelming experience of sitting on Santa's lap

Autism Society of Alaska hosts alternative to the overwhelming experience of sitting on Santa's lap

Families with children with all spectrum of special needs, could come to get their picture taken on Sunday morning, with a more controlled and welcoming environment.

Many families who attended the event say they don't often go to the mall because of the crowds and loud noises, but this event let them get the experience of Christmas shopping without the chaos.

Kim and her husband Denis were at Londonderry Mall with their boys Luke and Zach for a special Silent Santa visit organized by Autism Edmonton. To accommodate them, the mall put on low lights, turned off all music and other sounds to keep the set quiet.

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The mall teamed up with Autism Speaks, Cherry Hill Programs, and FEAT of Louisville to make the event possible.

"The children's families are able to make an appointment so the children don't have to wait in line quite as long, and it generally makes for a much more positive meaningful experience with Santa", Pinsky said.

Smith says she appreciates any events that specify time for her son Caleb and children like him. "So, just to be able to get this one-on-one time without the crowd is a blessing for us".

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Luke has autism and for him, visiting Santa under normal conditions "would just be sensory overload", his mother said.

"I'm so grateful Santa Cares was brought to the community".

Turtle Creek Mall says they hope to make this event an annual tradition. "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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