7:30 a.m., Dec.13)
Children with autistic spectrum disorders get special visit with Santa
By Fred Sherwin
The Orléans Star
than 60 area children living with autism and other autism
spectrum disorders were able to have a special visit with
Santa this year thanks to the folks at and Place d’Orléans.
Adelynn waited patiently for nearly 20 minutes before
she got her turn with the Jolly Old Elf and the smile
on her face and the twinkle in her eyes spoke volumes
about what the moment meant for the young girl who suffers
from Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental
disorder that causes a pro-gressive inability to use muscles
for eye and body movements and speech.
was all smiles when she visited with Santa at Place d’Orléans on Nov. 24 during the special
Sensory Santa Session for kids with autism spectrum disorders. PHOTO SUPPLIED
special Sensory Santa Session was co-organized by Place
d’Orléans and Quick Start: Early Intervention for Autism.
is the second year the event has been held and the response
has been tremendous, with the number of kids able to see
Santa more than doubling.
children with autistic syndrome disorders don’t fare well
in environments where there is a lot of noise and other
sensory distractions, the event was held early Sunday
morning when mall traffic is at its lowest. The Christmas
music was also turned off and Santa left his jingle bells
on his sleigh.
part of the promotion, Place d’Orléans provided each family
with a complimentary photo.
year was the first time we did it and without hesitation
we said yes,” said Place d’Orléans marketing manager Emma
Martin. “It’s a wonderful initiative for the kids to be
able to see Santa and have their picture taken with him.”
Start co-founder Suzanne Jacobsen said the Sensory Santa
Sessions, which were held in five different malls this
year, are a godsend for families with children suffering
from autism and other neurological disorders.
many families could never bring their kids to see Santa
because it was too noisy in the mall and there was too
much happening so the kids would end up having a meltdown
before they could get to see Santa,” explains Jacobsen.
then I started speaking with the malls and they were all
very supportive in setting time aside so kids with autistic
spectrum disorders could visit with him.”
mother, Paola, was one of those parents who was very appreciative
that Place d’Orléans held the special session again this
really appreciate this. A lot of children with special
needs don’t like crowds. They don’t like a lot of noise
so this is perfect for these children,” said Paola.
Santa was all too happy to chat with each and every child
and get their Christmas wishes firsthand rather than read
them in a letter.
know every child is special to Santa, so it’s wonderful
that Place d’Orléans and the other malls that I visit
are able to do this,” said Santa during a break in the
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)