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December 07, 2017 | Mysti Jordan
It can be difficult for a child on the spectrum to go and visit Santa. You have the noise from the mall, the loud music, the bright lights, and the long lines.
Erin has a little boy named Brayden, and once he was diagnosed with autism, she and her husband just figured he was never going to have that experience of sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall. There’s a special program called the Caring Santa Program, though, and it’s organized by the group Autism Speaks. They close down the stores and this is a time specifically reserved for children on the spectrum. It’s a calm, quiet, stress-free environment. They give the kiddos a chance to warm up to Santa on their terms.
With Brayden, Santa took a musical snow globe that he had by his chair and put it on the floor, then returned to where he was sitting. Brayden finally got comfortable enough to go get down on the floor and play with the snow globe, and that’s when Santa got down on his level and joined him on the floor. It wasn’t a traditional exchange with Santa where Brayden told him what he wanted for Christmas. The two of them just bonded by playing there on the floor together. His parents were thrilled and thought the interaction was so sweet.