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Amid Holiday Rush, Santa To Go ‘Sensory Friendly’


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A visit to meet Santa Claus can be overwhelming, but this weekend St. Nick will make some special adjustments to accommodate kids with disabilities at many malls across the country.

Over 120 malls from New York to California will host “Caring Santa” events on Sunday.

Scheduled before the shopping centers open their doors for the day, the sessions will allow children with special needs to meet and have their photo taken with Santa in a calmer environment.

Organizers with Simon Malls, AbilityPath and The Noerr Programs — which places Santa at many malls — say they’ve taken special care to support the “sensory, physical and developmental needs” children with autism and other disabilities may have.

Unlike regular visits with Santa, the special events will feature a numbering system so kids do not have to wait in line. Other activities will be available to entertain those waiting for their turn. Music as well as nearby escalators and fountains will be turned off and the lights will be dimmed for the occasion.

What’s more, many of the Santas are trained or have experience working with children with disabilities, organizers said.

The events are open to anyone with special needs and families can sign up online to participate.

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