NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – There are ways families can adapt the holidays to fit their needs. All of the lights, sounds and chaos around the holidays can be very stressful for kids with sensory issues.
The Autism Society of Mahoning Valley shared advice to lessen the stress and add more joy to the holidays.
First, the organization hosts Special Santa every year. It gives families with children who have special needs a chance to visit Santa, with a few modifications.
The lights are dimmed and families aren’t stuck waiting in long lines.
ASMV said it provides an opportunity for families who would otherwise not be able to visit Santa due to sensory issues and other needs.
“If you think about taking a neurotypical child to the mall during the holidays, people are rushing around, it’s chaos, it’s loud. The kids need to wait in line to see Santa for a very long time, and it’s just way over, too stimulating for our children to be able to be a part of that,” said ASMV Director Robin Suzelis.
At home, there are simple steps you can take to lessen the stress around the holidays that can make a big difference.
“Even though there’s a child with special needs or autism, any age, just trying to break down those activities. It’s not that families with children with autism can’t do these types of events and have family get-togethers. Everything just has to be modified a little bit,” said Suzelis.
Some examples include only going to a couple of family gatherings or taking extra time decorating and baking.
Special Santa is on December 4 at the Eastwood Mall from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. To accommodate families, the mall opens two hours early for the event only.
You will need to register online for Special Santa. The sign-up is for 30-minute time blocks so the center court of the mall isn’t too busy at one given time.