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The Madison Record

Sensory Santa visits Bridge Street

Huntsville Networking Group with Autism Society of Alabama enjoyed the "Making Connections" Camp. CONTRIBUTED
Huntsville Networking Group with Autism Society of Alabama enjoyed the “Making Connections” Camp. CONTRIBUTED

HUNTSVILLE – Individuals on the autism spectrum and their siblings can visit Sensory Santa at Bridge Street Town Centre on Dec. 5.

The “sensory friendly opportunity” will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. by the Christmas tree at Bridge Street, Norma Pederson with Autism Society of Alabama said. The autism society is providing the session in partnership with mall management.

“The lights will be dimmed, and the mall at Bridge Street will create a more serene surrounding for two hours for children, teens and young adults on the spectrum,” Pederson said.

The Sensory Santa experience is free to guests. The autism society does request guests to RSVP by emailing to makingconnectionshsv@autism-alabama.org. Guests are welcome to bring their cameras for photographs.

“Creating an atmosphere for our friends on the spectrum so they may visit with Santa is very much appreciated by the families,” Dr. Bama Hager said. Hager serves as program director for the autism society. “We expect a great turnout and plan to host the event again next year if families find the experience to be a positive one.”

At Bridge Street, the session’s accommodations will include decreased noise; for example, background music will be turned off. Santa will speak in a lowered voice. The staff will talk in slow, easy-to-understand language.

“They understand children may not want to be touched,” Hager said. “Families can have someone save their place in line, rather than forcing the child to stand still until called.”

Children can opt to stand or sit near Santa, instead of sitting in his lap. “Children may also sit in Santa’s chair, while he stands behind them for a ‘photo bomb’ picture,” Hager said.

Autism Society of Alabama’s mission is to improve services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families through education and advocacy. For more information, visit autism-alabama.org.

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