Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Many families take their annual visit to Santa at their local shopping centre for granted, but for children with sensitivities such as those associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) it can be a situation best avoided.
Sometimes preparing your child before the event, explaining what they can expect to experience and reassuring them about any concerns that they may have will help them to enjoy the experience more. After all, he is an odd looking man in odd looking clothes who makes odd sounding ho ho noises. He's not someone that you see every day, is he?
Sometimes, though, their sensitivities make the whole event really distressing.
Occasionally someone has a good idea. A shopping mall in Montgomery County, Miami, USA, has its third annual “Sensitive Santa” event planned for this December.
It is a special event designed for children with high sensitivity, with lower lighting and quieter surroundings. Everything is designed to keep things calm and peaceful and non-threatening to sensitive people.
When children with ASD meet Santa in a comfortable setting where they feel safe to interact with him, it becomes a wonderful and magical experience that leaves a very positive impression.
Your local Autism Association should be able to tell you of any similar events being hosted in your area. If there aren’t any, then it would be well worth approaching the management of your local shopping mall to see if they would consider hosting a similar event. It only has to be one time frame on a set day and with adequate promotion it would be a profitable undertaking for them.
Often children with ASD miss out on magical experiences like meeting with Santa for the first time but with greater public awareness and the right settings, they can share in these simple joys too.