Sensory sensitive Santa visits children with Autism

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Polaris Fashion Place was quiet Sunday morning and the lights were dim. It felt like the mall was closed, but for several kids, the atmosphere was just right.

“This is nice because it’s quieter. There’s less people here,” said Tara Vanhorn, whose son has Autism.

Vanhorn says she tried to take her son to visit Santa in the past. She says it didn’t go well because it was too crowded and loud. Vanhorn says her son was diagnosed with Autism two years ago.

Vanhorns son got the chance to spend time with Santa for the first time ever, Sunday morning.

“He loved it. He went up and sat on his lap,” said Vanhorn.

Another mom says her son also didn’t have a picture perfect ending with Santa, initially.

“The first time was pretty bad because of all the noise going on,” said Tiara Lewis, whose son has Autism

It’s the fifth year that Polaris Fashion Place has offered Sensitive Santa. For 2 hours, the mall is only open to children with special needs and their families.

“When we first walked in, we knew it was going to be a great thing because there wasn’t a lot of people,” said Lewis

Everything was setup to give children with special needs a comfortable experience. There wasn’t music, flashy Christmas lights or a line.

Parents even decided whether or not they wanted the photographer to use the flash on the camera. For some children with special needs the flash can be a distraction while kids are with Santa.

Kids got a free picture with Santa and they took part in fun activities, like face painting, after their visit to see Santa.

Several parents say they’re thankful for Sensitive Santa and they’ll be back next year. Sunday was the last day for Sensitive Santa at Polaris Fashion Place.

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