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giftedviz.com December 18, 2017


Caring Santa schedules visits for children and families with special needs

05 December 2017, 02:33 | Rodolfo Wallace

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Sunday seeing Santa Claus was a bit easier for children with Autism as Autism Speaks hosted a special event at the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids.

The Caring Santa program is available, by appointment, for children and families about an hour and a half before a shopping mall opens. To accommodate them, the mall put on low lights, turned off all music and other sounds to keep the set quiet.

That's why ten years ago the Barber National Institute launched a sensory Santa event.

Turtle Creek Mall General Manager, Stacy Woodard, says she's excited the mall could offer this personal experience for children with special needs.

More than 30 families took advantage of the opportunity.

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But, that trip to see Santa can be more hard for some families like Nygaards, with children on the Autism spectrum.

Smith says she appreciates any events that specify time for her son Caleb and children like him. Especially for those families who have children with special needs. "This was just a good way to bring him and also the siblings in", Breanne said.

That's where the event "Santa Cares" comes in.

"Everybody can remember back to when they were kids to listening to it and seeing photos from when they were children sitting on Santa's lap and you can kind of see how they've evolved over the years" says Joan Ghan from Northpark Mall.

"It's awesome. There are so many opportunities out there that we are just not able to do, so knowing we can come here each year, it's just definitely a blessing", said parent Kristy Miller.



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