Health Care

Children with special needs meet Santa at University Park Mall

Children with special needs meet Santa at University Park Mall

While special accommodations were made for children with special needs, their siblings and family were also welcome.

"We know that taking a photo with Santa is a valued holiday tradition and we wanted to make that inclusive for all families", says Springfield Town Center Marketing Director Kimberly Baldy.

"If we had to come and wait an hour, it would not go well", said parent Brett Flannery.

"I'm so grateful Santa Cares was brought to the community". It is a low sensory experience for children with autism with other special disabilities.

The Avila's are among 30 families who reserved a special visit to Santa's Wonderland at Grapevine Mills for an event called Caring Santa.




"It's epic! It's huge", said parent Pam Dore. So we're excited to start here and make it bigger and better next year.

Autism Speaks is hosting sensory-friendly Santa events across the country this holiday season.

Smith says she appreciates any events that specify time for her son Caleb and children like him. "Sometimes we have to miss out on things that we just can't do without these opportunities". "It's just really feels great to be able to help families do something that a lot of us take for granted".

Cavanagh adds most people don't realize how important it is for families to get these type of opportunities.

"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.


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