Sensory Santa 2018
Written by: Denys Collins
On December 8th, 2018 the Autism Society of Alaska hosted their 5th annual Sensory Santa event. This event provides families with individuals on all spectrums of special needs a more controlled and welcoming environment to visit with Father Christmas. Simple adjustments are made to reduce sensory stimuli and to create a calming environment.
The Autism Society of Alaska (ASA) kicked off the holiday season with their annual Sensory Santa Event. For many with autism and sensory processing disorders, visiting Santa can be difficult. ASA offers all families the opportunity to get their picture taken with Santa Claus. They take out all of the stress and leave behind all the magic. This means no lines, no loud noises, and dimmed lights all in an accepting environment.
This year, families were greeted in the waiting area with Christmas lights, light music, and the welcoming faces of volunteers. Children were able to make their own ornament, play with toys, and eat yummy treats. For those that needed space, a tent to get away was provided. Sipping Streams tea and Superior Alaska Coffee was donated for parents to enjoy. Once they were ready, families were brought back to a separate room to meet Santa. ASA’s Father Christmas is a kind gentle man that quickly soothes all with his soft voice in a separate room, and their very generous photographer captures the entire moment .
This year, ASA was able to also provide families with safety kits thanks to the GVEA Good Cents grant. This kits included items such as door alarms, identification shoe tags, a safety brochure, and more. They are planning to make these available to more families in the future. Safety is the number one concern for the Autism Society of Alaska and is vital to their mission. This year was about gift that is not only wanted but needed.
The holiday season is a special time and no child should be left out of family traditions. The Autism Society of Alaska loves being able to offer the Santa experience with a few accommodations to make it accessible for all children. We are thankful for our title sponsor, Greer Tank and Welding, our helper elves, our photographer, our Santa and his wife, and all of our attendees for letting us share this special day with them.