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A Pediatric Perspective

Tuesday Tidbit - Meeting Santa

Published December 14, 2010 12:23 AM by Wendy Hof

What do you call someone who is afraid of Santa Claus?   



 It's that time of year again - time to take pictures with Santa!  Most parents can't wait to get that picture of their little one sitting on Santa's lap and looking up at him in awe.  Surprisingly that is not always the way the pictures turn out.  I have a few of my own where one or the other of my sons is looking up at Santa with not awe, but a scared look in their eyes.  I even have one where my youngest son is standing behind his older brother hiding - eyes closed tight as if to say "if I can't see you - you can't see me". 


Maybe not so surprisingly this is not all that uncommon.  We are asking our a little child to meet this "stranger" and sit on his lap.  Suddenly there is this big guy with a bright red suit and a long white beard who wants to talk to them.  It can be very intimidating.  Now think about what happens when you bring along a child who has sensory issues and toss in the long lines, the loud noises, the crying child here or there, the upset and stressed parent and you have a child who is over whelmed before they even get to the point of standing anywhere close to Santa.


If you know of a child who just might not make it through the sensory experience of meeting Santa there is help out there.  Several churches and malls have started offering "sensory-friendly Santa" meetings.  They are offering times (by appointment) to meet Santa before the location opens up to the general public.  You can do a google search "sensory friendly Santa meetings in (your state)" to see if there is anything listed in your area. 


If nothing comes up in the search do not stop there.  With so many theaters now offering sensory-friendly movie viewings the word is getting out that there are children who need other events to be sensory-friendly as well.  Find out where Santa will be appearing near you and call who is organizing or hosting the event to see if you can bring your child in before the actual opening time.  Explain to them how your child would love to meet Santa but really needs to be able to do so in a sensory friendly atmosphere.  If the first place you call isn't able to accommodate you, try the next. 


If all else fails, see if you can find someone who would be willing to dress up as Santa and have a picture taken in your home.  You may even be able to call around and find a room at a local library or church where you could set up times for other families you know to come and share in the sensory-friendly Santa experience.  If you have a local Autism or Therapy Center in your town contact them and see if they will help you to organize an event.  If not this year, as Christmas is just around the corner, then perhaps this could be a "to do" for next year...I know I'm adding it to my list!


If anyone has had any good sensory-friendly experiences and would like to share them - please let us know what worked and what didn't.  What you thought might work and what you were surprised did work.  By sharing the light of our experiences we can brighten anothers world.




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