Kids with autism meet Santa in calmer environment after malls across U.S open early
Malls across U.S and Canada Open Early for Kids with Autism to Meet Santa
It's the holiday season, and malls across the US and Canada are opening early so children with autism can visit Santa in a calmer environment.
Two organizations partnered for an event that involves hundreds of malls in the U.S. and Canada opening early
Autism Speaks, Cherry Hill Programs, and Santa Cares partnered for an event that involves hundreds of malls in the U.S and Canada opening early, so the environment is less hectic when children with autism come to see Saint Nick.
The initiative helps to create a calmer environment for children with autism or sensory issues visiting Santa.
In addition to early mall hours, they made sure that there are fewer stimulants like lowered music volume and dimmed lights for a calmer environment. Sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, among other stimuli, are often triggering.
According to the press release from Cherry Hill Programs, Santa has been trained specially to interact with special needs children. It will take cues from a parent or caregiver who knows the child’s abilities and preferences.
In total, 582 shopping destinations across the U.S. and Canada are taking part in 747 Santa Cares events.
The goal is to create a more inclusive world for people with autism, and events like this make such a meaningful impact in helping families feel comfortable, understood, and accepted. The vice president of services and supports at Autism Speaks, Valerie Paradiz, PhD., is thankful that they have come in partnership with Cherry Hill Programs to bring these autism-friendly events to the community.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
- Anthony J. D'Angelo