Autism Awareness during the Holidays

December 18, 2015
Posted By: Paige Mador

For most kids, Christmas is magical and exciting.  Parties, gifts, sweets, visits from friends and relatives, music, games…  And especially their yearly visit to Santa.  What is normally a fun family outing to a local mall can easily turn into a very challenging experience for families of children with autism.  Loud music, crowds, waiting in line, big open spaces, meeting new people, and bright lights can all be triggers for people with sensory processing issues like autism. 

 Fortunately, companies are starting to take notice and make accommodations for autistic children to make their holidays a little brighter.  Malls across the country have started hosting “Quiet Santa” visits so children and their families can enter the mall before it opens and visit with Santa without the crowds, noise, and overstimulation that can make this experience miserable for kids with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  An autism-friendly children’s gym in Los Angeles recently hosted an incredible “Sensitive Santa” event and a mall in Virginia Beach recently hosted a free event for children with autism. 

 Many “Santas” across the country have also been gaining attention for their sensitivity.  Recently, a Santa from Michigan was praised for his kindness – read the full article here.

 For more information about sensory-friendly holiday events in our community, such as performances of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, visit the SPED Child and Teen special needs recreation web site.  You can also visit Autism Speaks for a complete list of autism-friendly “Caring Santa” events at malls across the country. 


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