Children with special needs got to spend some quiet time with Santa Sunday morning at the Cornwall Centre, as part of Silent Santa, a sensory-friendly experience to make sure every child gets a special moment this holiday season.
The Cornwall Centre opened its doors early today so children with special needs could meet Santa and for those who missed it this year, Santa has a special message. Find out what it is tonight on @GlobalRegina #hohoho #YQR pic.twitter上海龙凤419/dUQH1JAZQ4
— Katelyn Wilson (@GlobalWilsonK) December 2, 2018
“It gives families who have children with autism or other sensory needs an opportunity to come and get that photo with Santa [and] create those memories in an environment where it’s quiet, [there are] less distractions and a lot less overwhelming for their kids,” said Keely Wight, executive director of the Autism Resource Centre.
While it may look like your typical visit with Jolly Old Saint Nick, for children with special needs the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming.
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For families like the Herringtons, the event gave their eight-year-old son Elijah the opportunity to met Santa for the first time since he was a baby.
“Not having all the music and all the other things going on makes it very accessible for him, so it was very successful this year,” said Shannon Williams, Elijah’s mother. “We got to show up, we got to sit with Santa — he smiled so that was really awesome.
“It was just such a great experience for him and I think it’s something he will remember and he hasn’t had that experience for a long time.”
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Twelve families scheduled sessions to avoid the lineups, flashing lights were dimmed, the Christmas music was turned off and the big guy got autism 101 training.
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“I was really shocked by the emotional impact more than I expected,” Santa Claus said. “I was very overwhelmed just how amazing the moments were.”
While there was no shortage of smiles, for those who couldn’t make it, Santa sends a special message.
“Santa is always watching to take care of you, there’s always somebody there for you.”