Monday, November 21, 2011

Sensitive Santa

Sunday was Dayton Mall's Sensitive Santa event.  We've done it in years past and had to wait in pretty long lines.  That was always our only complaint.

Sensitive Santa is an event for kids with autism and related disorders to have a chance to see Santa Claus without all the extra sensory overload of a regular visit to Santa.  All the Christmas lights and animated displays are turned off, there is no Christmas music playing, and it is before the mall opens, so there are a lot less people to deal with.

This year, instead of having a line, we emailed our reservations in and they sent us a time we were to arrive.  Our arrival time was set for 9:30.  We had gotten the boys geared up for it the day before by making a schedule up and talking about what to expect.  Drew was quite excited that he'd have a chance to see the Dayton Mall elevator he watches on Youtube every day.  He really watches Youtube videos of elevators.  And I'm cool with that.  So anyway, Sunday morning arrived and the boys were pretty happy about the plan. 

We got to the mall and Eric signed Drew and Blake in.  They directed us to the play area and gave us a number.  They said they'd post our number on a big whiteboard when it was our turn.   They didn't holler out numbers or anything.  There was a therapy group there who provided a small ball pit and some sensory boxes for the kids.  Drew didn't want to go into the play area, but stood outside it. 

Less than five minutes later they put our number up.  An employee walked us to where Santa Claus was, which also happened to be where the elevator was as well.  Both boys were hesitant, but Drew went in the area first.  Blake didn't want to.  Eric decided to pick him up and carry him in.  Blake was not excited about that, which scared Drew off.  Eric plunked Blake down by Santa, where Blake nervously sat until someone told him he could get up.  He didn't say a word to Santa.  Drew wouldn't go in, and there was another family already waiting nearby with their own autistic son, so I didn't want to mess up their experience.  We just let Drew not get his picture taken with Santa.  He did like to watch the elevator, though.   While I looked at the pictures they took, Blake watched Santa intently from a safe distance. 

Drew was ready to go, but Blake hadn't had much of a chance to play in the play area.  We told Drew we were going to stay five minutes then we'd leave.  Blake played happily for a few minutes and was ready to go when the time was up.  He got out to the car and said, "Mommy!  Train station!"  which translated means, "Crap!  I forgot to tell Santa that I want a train station for Christmas!"  Eric assured him that we'd email Santa and he could let Santa know that way.  On the way home, Blake kept looking at the picture we got and saying, "Hi Santa!  Ho ho ho!" 

It was about two hours of driving for less than a half hour total in the mall, but it was a success and both boys were happy with having gone.  Here's the pic of Blake:


Carrie Hughes said...

That's great! I didn't know they did that and I think it is great! You are good to travel so far for them just to see Santa. Such good parents you are.

Stacie@hometownperch said...

What a great idea to have a Sensitive Santa event. I'm glad your boys got a chance to go without all the over-stimulation.

Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

I wish they had one of those around here. Maybe I need work on that. I wanted to tell you too, sometimes I think it's good to force one kid to go through something that the other one appreciates and enjoys - just to show them that it might not be as bad as they think it will be, and that sometimes we have to sacrifice our own wants and needs for our loved ones. I think my kids get something out of the events and places they end up going just because a sibling wanted or needed to go there..... I'm rambling here so I hope you understand what I'm trying to say!