Every child should get to share their Christmas wish list with Santa. But for kids with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, your traditional Santa experience could be way too overwhelming.
That’s why two local groups are giving parents of children with special needs a different option this holiday season.
“I think overall a lot of our families have challenges around the holidays where things are unfamiliar,” says Dr. Sean Peterson, PhD, Clinical Director of the Pier Center for Autism.
The jolly man in red is a welcoming, nostalgic part of the holidays, but for kids easily overwhelmed by the world around them, your typical Santa experience, just might not quite fit – no matter how jolly Santa is.
That’s why the Pier Center for Autism and the Siouxland Autism Support Group is bringing a unique “Sensory Santa” experience to local families this weekend.
It’s a chance for parents of children with special needs to avoid some of the stressors that typically come with a visit with Old Saint Nick.
Sean Peterson, Clinical Director for the Pier Center for Autism, says, “Difficulty waiting in line for an extended period, loud noises or unfamiliar settings, with the addition of the ‘mall Santa’ being kind of a quick ‘run thru’ doesn’t really give families the opportunity to calm down to the level where they could get that quality picture.”
Pier Center Clinical Director Sean Peterson says Sensory Santa will be a quiet, friendly setting. And this Santa, has experience with children with special needs.
Peterson says, “Just having that calming, relaxed influence, I hope, will be a really awesome experience for the families.”
If your family would like to take part – the cost is $15 per family, and they do ask that you call and make a reservation.
It’s going on this Saturday from 9am – noon at the Pier Center for Autism.
You can call (712) 522-2961 to sign up or follow this link to the Pier Center’s website.