Sensitive Santa Helps Children With Special Needs
An alternative for children who have difficulty with sensory processing.
Posted Dec 23, 2019
There is something magical about children seeing Santa Claus at community events or malls. The bright lights, shiny decorations, and a steadily flowing line of eager children typically make it an enjoyable and memorable experience.
However, all of that sensory input can be stressful for children who present with sensory-processing concerns. Even the cornucopia of holiday scents that we pleasantly associate with Christmas events can be distressing. Sensitive Santa seeks to greatly mitigate that stress and provide every child with a memorable experience.
Sensitive Santa provides parents with a quiet and sensory-friendly environment for their child to see Santa. The music volume is low or not even playing at all, the holiday scents which typically fill the air at Christmas parties are eliminated, lighting is kept at low levels, and fluorescent lights are replaced with incandescent lights. There are activities to children busy and quiet places set aside for children to relax if they become overwhelmed. Churches are ideal locations for Sensitive Santa, but some shopping malls do their best to make the accommodations that such an event requires.
Sensitive Santa is not a reaction to anything that traditional Santa is doing wrong. However, Santa visits many community events and malls. He can meet upwards of 60 children per hour at community events and as many as 30,000 children at some malls throughout the Christmas season. All of the different public locations and his time constraints mean that making the necessary accommodations can be difficult. Sensitive Santa events simply give him more time to spend with children in a much more controlled environment.
Please consider starting an annual Sensitive Santa event if your community does not have one. The holiday season can be a hectic and stressful time for many parents. Especially parents who may need accommodations for their children to enjoy activities that other parents may take for granted. It easy to be unaware of the struggles others face when we have little experience or knowledge of them ourselves. However, Christmas is a time to look outward, and it is always a good time to do something that makes your community a better place to live.
Churches and local organizations that work with children who experience sensory processing concerns should be helpful resources and partners. Most states have also simplified the process for obtaining volunteer child clearances online. Clearances must be obtained, and the free process typically takes only minutes.