The Pervasive Parenting Center will present Sensitive Santa throughout eastern Oklahoma in early December.
This is an opportunity for anyone with sensory issues to meet Santa without standing in the long lines, said Kodey Toney, Pervasive Parenting Center director.
Toney said, “For some families with children on the autism spectrum, or with other sensory issues, the holiday season can be overwhelming. The long lines at stores to get a couple seconds with Santa, which may or may not work out, can be frustrating for a child with autism and the families.”
However there is an alternative to those lines and hotbeds for meltdowns. The Pervasive Parenting Center is holding Sensitive Santa.
Toney said, “The event is a great way for children with disabilities and sensory issues to enjoy the holiday season.
“Any parent of a child on the spectrum knows that waiting in those long lines is just an invitation to a meltdown. The sights, smells, and long delay can cause a sensory overload that will leave a bad impression of Christmas. Children with disabilities who attend can enjoy a quiet evening with Santa, and don’t have to wait in lines,” said Toney. “This is an annual event for us. We have many families throughout LeFlore, Sequoyah, and Haskell Counties that take advantage of this opportunity.”
Toney explained Sensitive Santa is soft spoken, unlike the boisterous, jolly soul at the mall. The stereotypical reproduction of the real man from the north is usually too much for a neurotypical child to handle, much less someone who is upset by loud sounds. He won’t touch the children unless they come up to him. They don’t have to sit in his lap unless they want to.
“This is one of my favorite things that we do throughout the year. It is a blessing for us to sponsor,” said Toney. “It’s great to see these children interact with Santa when most times they would be too overstimulated to participate.”
The children are treated to milk and cookies while they wait, games, and someone is on hand to read a book as well. This gives them something to do instead of standing around in a long line.
Santa will be at Kibois Community Action building in Stigler on Tuesday, Dec. 6; Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw on Tuesday, Dec. 13; and Carl Albert State College in Poteau on Thursday, Dec. 15. These events will begin at 6 p.m. each night.
Sensitive Santa is open to all children with disabilities, not just those on the spectrum.
“We understand that not all children will feel comfortable around huge crowds, and it’s inconvenient to wait in line with any type of disability. The only thing we ask is that this is for just the children with disabilities; no siblings. Too many children can mean too many distractions,” Toney said.
For more information, or those with a child planning to attend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 918-647-1255, 918-658-5076, or Pervasive Parenting Center on Facebook.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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