Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - For families with children on the autism spectrum or other sensory issues, the holiday season can be overwhelming. The long lines to get just a few seconds with Santa can be frustrating for a child with autism and their family.
Sensitive Santa is an alternative to those long lines and increased potential for meltdowns.
The Pervasive Parenting Center will present the 11th annual Sensitive Santa throughout eastern Oklahoma beginning the first week of December.
"Any parent of a child on the spectrum knows that waiting in those long lines is just an invitation to a meltdown," said Pervasive Parenting Center Director Kodey Toney.
The typical sights, smells, and long delays of waiting to see Santa can cause a sensory overload that can leave a bad impression of Christmas. Children with disabilities who attend Sensitive Santa can enjoy a quiet, joyful evening with Santa.
A Sensitive Santa is a soft-spoken Santa, unlike the boisterous, loud Santa 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. Sensitive Santa also won’t touch the children unless they come up to him, and they don’t have to sit in his lap unless they want to.
"This has been such a blessing for us to sponsor," Toney stated. "When you see a little girl who is basically non-verbal light up when she sees Santa, it’s just amazing. It’s great to see these children interact with Santa when most of the time they would be too overstimulated to participate."
The children will also be treated to milk and cookies while they wait.
Sensitive Santa has many planned stops ahead. He will first visit the KIBOIS Community Action Building in Wilburton on Thursday, December 2. He will then fly over to the KIBOIS Community Action Building in Stigler on Tuesday, December 7 and make a stop at Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw on Thursday, December 9 before landing at his final destination of 2021 at the Pervasive Parenting Center in Poteau on Tuesday, December 14.
These events will begin at 6 p.m. each night and are by appointment only.
Sensitive Santa is open to ALL children with disabilities, not just those on the spectrum.
"We understand that not all children feel comfortable around huge crowds, and it’s inconvenient to wait in line with any type of disability," Toney said. "The only thing we ask is that you bring only your children with disabilities, not their siblings. Too many children can mean too many distractions."
For more information, or to make an appointment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 918-647-1255.
Lindsie Dyer, Staff Writer
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