Sensory-friendly Santa event makes meeting Santa Claus special for everyone

Autism Speaks hosts sensory-friendly holiday event

"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. CherryVale Mall is making sure every kid has their own magical moment with Santa Claus.

Evan Flannery has Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism.

"It's epic! It's huge", said parent Pam Dore.

The mall opened before regular business hours Sunday morning for the "Santa Cares" event.

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.

Each employee in Santa's workshop is trained on working with kids with special needs. She said, "What a lot of people don't understand is special needs children, some of them have never visited Santa, sat with Santa".


Brett Flannery says "Santa Cares" gave his family the opportunity to do something most people get to enjoy normally.

For children with special needs, the mall during the holidays can be an overwhelming time.

"We probably wouldn't do it otherwise right? But we were waiting less than five minutes probably", said Grace.

"It feels great to be able to help families do something that a lot of us take for granted", said Cavanagh.

"Everybody can remember back to when they were kids to listening to it and seeing photos from when they were children sitting on Santa's lap and you can kind of see how they've evolved over the years" says Joan Ghan from Northpark Mall.

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