Silent Santa gives children with autism quiet time with Old St. Nick

Autism Society of Alaska hosts alternative to the overwhelming experience of sitting on Santa's lap

That's why ten years ago the Barber National Institute launched a sensory Santa event. But, for children with Autism, it can be more frustrating than merry.

"He just couldn't tolerate the lines and all the extra excitement, what's going on at the mall", said Dore.

Children in Newton Aycliffe and Aycliffe Village have a special postal service so that the children can send their letters to Santa and get a reply in time for Christmas. "So it's very important to us here at Rushmore Mall". "Or sometimes Luke will just absolutely shut down and it's like he's not there - it's just too much for him".

"It could mean just not being able to cope at all - lots of screaming and yelling and not being physically able to be in that environment".

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From 9-11 Sunday morning, before the mall even opened, children got the chance to see the man in the red suit. This is Bodie's second time sitting with Santa.

Taking a picture with Santa is a holiday tradition for many families.

"It's really nice to be able come down here and not have it be overstimulating and not have it be a bad experience", Schulte said.

For Carlton Clark and his family, Sunday's visit was a first. "But we were waiting less than five minutes probably", said Grace.

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