Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Once again Christmas has crept upon us, and tis the season for decorations, holiday cheer, and standing in line to see Santa. When I think of waiting for Santa I always get the image of A Christmas Story (one of my favorite movies ever) when the disoriented Ralphie gets a boot to the face from the rude red-nosed mall Claus. While this is just a distortion of what it’s like for children, for a child with Autism it may be closer to the truth.

This is why the Parents of Autism are holding the Second Annual Sensitive Santa in Poteau. This event is a great way for children with disabilities and sensory issues to enjoy the holiday season.

Any parent of a child on the spectrum knows that waiting in those long lines is just an invitation to a meltdown. The sights, smells, and long delay can cause a sensory overload that will leave a bad impression of Christmas.

Last year, the Parents of Autism group from Poteau decided to hold a Sensitive Santa to help children with Autism and other disabilities enjoy this time of year better. More than 30 people came out to the event and enjoyed a quiet evening with Santa, and didn’t have to wait in lines.

Konner was one of the first children there and he loved it. The event was hosted by the Community State Bank which houses a large fish aquarium. That was the first thing he went for. The fish seemed to calm him and keep him busy while we waited on the Santa to finish with the child in front of him.

Santa was soft spoken, unlike the boisterous, jolly soul that we see at the mall. The stereotypical reproduction of the real man from the north is usually too much for a neurotypical child to handle, much less someone who is upset by loud sounds.

He didn’t touch the children unless they came up to him. This is an important part. They don’t have to sit in his lap unless they want to. Konner actually is okay with touching. He walked right up and gave him a big hug.

The children were treated to milk and cookies while they waited, and were treated to a reading of “The Night Before Christmas”. This gave them something to do instead of standing around in a long line.

We even arranged for Santa to have a present ahead of time so that he could pull it out of his bag when we got there. He loved that Santa knew exactly what he wanted, and he got a present ahead of time.

Sensitive Santa is open to ALL children with disabilities, not just those on the spectrum. We understand that not all children will feel comfortable around huge crowds, and it’s inconvenient to wait in line with any type of disability.

The Sensitive Santa will be held at the Community State Bank again this year. It is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13 from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.

If you want more information, or have a child that is planning to attend, please contact me at, or contact us on face book at either the Parents of Autism page or Pervasive Parenting.

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