Sensitive Santas Cater to Autistic Children

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sitting on Santa Claus's lap can be be an especially daunting proposition for children who are among the 1.5 million Americans with autism spectrum disorders. However, for many parents, there may be hope this Christmas. The Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust — which owns 2 dozen malls nationwide — has recently started working with autism groups to offer "sensitive Santa" sessions at its malls.

Melody Benbow is the Coordinator of Talk About Curing Autism in Cranbury New Jersey. Her five-year-old Calvin is autistic. Santa A. Claus (his legal name) is the host of the "sensitive Santa" sessions at the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey. 

Guests:

Melody Benbow and Santa A. Claus

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [1]

Kayza Zajac

We're going into 2012 and the best we can do is a handful of "Sensitive Santas" who need to be TRAINED to recognize that not every child needs to sit on his lap and hear Ho-Ho-HO?!

Allow me to point out that it's not just kids on the autism spectrum that may have a problem with the whole scene. There are plenty of other conditions that I can think of that would create issues. Furthermore, there are many kids without any real issues that simply don't enjoy the experience or who have real problems with the whole thing or just parts of it.

Parents need to realize that they should NOT be forcing their kids into this. And EVERY "santa" needs to respect the different needs of every child. I don't think it should take a special training to recognize that some kids just don't like big loud (to them) people, or don't enjoy sitting on the lap of someone they don't know well. Why on earth would we force that on a child? In an era where we need to teach children to respect their own borders, this is insanity.

Dec. 22 2011 09:09 AM

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