This past Sunday, we were invited by Northgate Mall to take part in their Caring Santa program.
The Caring Santa visit at Northgate Mall occurred before the mall opened to shoppers. Not only did they have snacks set out for the children, but also a coloring area and a social story for the children to read. It was really nice.
For most kids, visiting is really no big deal. But for a kid like Sebby, who is on the Autism Spectrum, it can be a little more challenging.
We did a few things to prepare Sebby and his siblings for our visit with the big man in the red suit. If you have a special needs child, or just a child who needs a little more comfort, these may help you too.
Tips for Visiting Santa With Your Special Needs Child
Put Santa’s visit on the calendar.
Sebby loves the calendar. He keeps track of all of our family activities. By putting it on the calendar he can see when our Santa visit is coming up. In fact, he talked about it for weeks.
Slip Santa a note.
One of the things I’ve loved with previous visits with special needs Santa is we had an elf take a note from us with my children’s names, ages and wishes. My kids LOVED that Santa knew who they were. If the Santa you visit doesn’t do this, prepare a little note ahead of time just in case.
Talk about the Santa visit before you go.
Sebby and his brother and sister know we go see Santa to ask for things for Christmas. We also talk about that they can sit on Santa’s lap, stand next to him or just give him a high five. Consider looking at a social story to prepare your child.
Consider the time of Day you visit Santa.
We were fortunate to visit Santa before the mall opened during the special Caring Santa event, but consider going to visit when the malls are quieter and won’t be as busy.
Make sure you take your time. Don’t feel like you need to rush through your visit. If your child needs a few minutes to warm up to Santa, that’s okay. I wish we had taken a little more time for our visit with Santa this year, because Sebby didn’t really get warmed up to Santa until it was no longer our turn. (He actually went back to Santa after another child had finished her visit to give Santa a high five)
Help your child with their visit with santa.
Since my kids are still figuring out the whole Santa thing, I remind them how we talked about what they wanted for Christmas so they can tell Santa again. They tend to speak fast and quiet, so Santa may not have heard them.
Just in case:
Sebby: Micro Drifters Clutch-Aid
Quincy: Frozen bike with dollies
Edison: Duplo blocks
Don’t worry about the perfect visit.
Don’t stress about the perfect photo – and BUY THEM. I am kicking myself for just buying prints and not a large digital file for our Christmas cards. I tried to capture Sebby giving Santa a high five, and I have a blurred photo of him running away, but the look on his face is pure joy.
You may have missed the Caring Santa at Simon Malls this year, but hopefully you’ll be there next year. If you haven’t gone to see Santa yet, I hope these tips help you.