A Tulsa mall is offering some quiet time with Santa so special needs children can enjoy a visit without being overwhelmed or overstimulated.
“For two hours before the shopping mall opened to the rest of the public, no Christmas music played and the lights were turned way down low for Tulsa Promenade’s first-ever “Sensitive Santa” event.”
“He wouldn’t have been able to do this otherwise because normally, you have so much activity and noise. I mean, look, it’s already working. He’s calm,” said Amanda Smallwood, nodding toward her 7-year-old nephew, Isaiah Givens. …”
“Further back in the line, Braden Noojin, 6, was glued to the screen of his Nintendo Game Boy.
“It helps him tune everything else out,” said his guardian grandmother, Kathy Noojin. “We haven’t done this before because it just wouldn’t have been worth the stress for him or me. People would be like, ‘Get your child under control.’ Here, everyone understands….”
“Susan Frederick, marketing director for Tulsa Promenade, said the idea for the “Sensitive Santa” event was born out of a similar one held last year at a Dayton, Ohio, mall owned by the same company, Glimcher Realty Trust.”
” ‘This is our regular Santa. He has a number of years of experience working with kids with special needs,’ Frederick explained. ‘All we do differently is ask about their comfort level. Are they comfortable with a (camera) flash? Can they have candy? Are they able to speak to Santa?’ ”
This story just warmed my heart and literally made me cry. I am so glad that somebody is thinking out there. These children deserve a happy experience talking to Santa as much as any other child, and I am so glad they are able to do this.
I have not heard of any malls around Atlanta offering this type of less stimulating Santa service. I searched for a while on the Web last night and didn’t find any publicizing it. (If you are a PR person for a local mall who is offering this type of service please write on the blog and let us know! I am sure parents would be interested!)
I did find in my search that the Autism Society Greater Georgia did offer on Dec. 4 a special day with a Sensitive Santa.
This was the write-up for the event on their Web site:
“ASA-GGC seeks to create a special opportunity for children on the spectrum and their siblings to visit with Santa without the stress of long lines and crowded malls. There are a limited number of appointment slots available, so please call ahead to reserve your time.”
So we’ve missed it this year but remember that for next year if you have a child with special needs. Or maybe a mall around Atlanta will also offer the service!
What do you think of the Sensitive Santa idea? Have you taken your special needs child to a Sensitive Santa before? Would you if knew one was offered? Is there a regular Santa that you could recommend for children with special needs?