Sensory Santa 2018

The holiday season is a special time and no child should be left out of family traditions.

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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.

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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.

Beer&Wine Tasting Silent Auction

Over 100 people attended the Autism Society of Alaska’s first Beer and Wine Tasting Silent Auction

Written by Denys Collins

Over 100 people attended the Autism Society of Alaska’s first Beer and Wine Tasting Silent Auction on October 5th, 2017. The money raised will go a long way towards helping Alaskan families impacted by autism. The auction and tasting, which took place at Roundup Steakhouse, made over $9,000 through ticket and auction item sales.

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This festive event was highlighted by an impressive amount of widely varied items generously donated including:

  • Fully stocked fishing boat rental
  • Cabin stay
  • Art by Alaskan artist Karla Morreira
  • Gift certificates for the Nutcracker Ballet
  • An entire table of homemade desserts

DSC_0124 While bidding on items, attendees were able to try numerous types of beers, wines, and spirits including  Alaskan made whiskeys from Arctic Harvest. The tasting tables and auction items began in the lower level of Roundup Steakhouse then flowed upstairs, stocking the second level. Sounds of friends and families engaging in lighthearted bidding wars and conversations filled the DSC_0077restaurant. We were even lucky enough to have Michelle Garcia Winner, the creator of Social Thinking and keynote speaker from this year’s Autism Conference, join the fun.

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The atmosphere of this event was unlike many of those we have previously held. This allowed for a new group of generous community members to help support local individuals that experience autism and their families. This was one of our most successful events yet. We were able to raise over $9,000 which will allow us to continue:

  • Holding trainings for first responders
  • Accommodate sensory friendly events
  • Hosting Community Enrichment Nights
  • Accessing resources for individuals and families

It truly was a community event from those that planned the event to those that ran it. It would not have been possible without the assistance of countless people.  Gene Lunney, the owner of Roundup Steakhouse’s hospitality and kindness are unsurpassed. He provided not only the venue but also the food and alcohol. The help of Paige Talvi, Stefanie Bell, and their crew of volunteers was invaluable. They were vital to the solicitation of amazing donations,  the beautiful set up, and the quick and painless check out. As a non profit, we are nothing without the community that supports us.  It was a beautiful night watching the community come together to support local families impacted by autism.

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*All photos courtesy of our amazing volunteer photographer, Chelsey Klos with Willow Photography