Santa Claus is clearly a jolly old soul, but for some kids he can be overwhelming. That’s especially concerning for children with Autism or sensory processing disorders. So the Kelberman Center has asked Sensory Santa to holding a special session for children with Autism and sensory processing disorders.
"A lot of times children on the Autism spectrum or who have sensory processing disorder have a difficult time in crowded environments. They’re oversensitive to loud noises, bright lights, to touch, so a lot of times what we filter in and filter out these children can not."
Kelly Vitullo is a Licensed Physical Therapist who works with kids with Autism and children with sensory disorders. She explains how one disorder doesn’t always correlate to the other.
"There are children who have sensory processing disorder that do not necessarily have a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder. So there are neurotypical children that also have sensory processing disorder. It could be as simple as they don’t like having tags on their clothing, they don’t like if their socks are not lined up appropriately."
Amanda Huey has a son with Autism and sensory issues. She knows how overwhelming the world can be for oversensitive kids.
"Noises are too loud for him, and lights are very bright. Music can be too loud. Echoing noises, so like going into a crowd like at the mall to see Santa when it’s very busy. We’ve tried. It doesn’t work very well."
Sensory Santa will be at the Sangertown Square Mall before normal hours with lights dimmed, music down, and distractions at a minimum.
Amanda Huey: "Sensory Santa is really nice for us because it gives us the opportunity to be able to experience things that we might not be able to otherwise"
Sensory Santa will be getting up early this weekend to accommodate 60 special children and will have to work his magic in only 2 hours. Unfortunately this weekend’s slots are all booked up, but you can catch up with Sensory Santa. He’ll have a boxcar reserved on the Polar Express on December 17th.
Here’s an online events calendar for families who want to see what programs and activities are coming up: