Christmas is a busy time with crowds and all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It can be so overwhelming for children with sensory issues and autism that many families choose to forgo a trip to the local shopping mall for a visit with Santa.
West Vancouver’s Park Royal Shopping Centre hosted a Quiet Santa event Sunday morning, in the hopes of providing a peaceful place for autistic kids and their families to take part in a Christmas tradition. The mall opened its doors at 8:30 a.m. and for two hours kept the lights low and turned the music off so families could enjoy some quiet festive time and a special moment with Santa Claus.
“These types of experiences can be very overwhelming for individuals on the spectrum so we’ve created a space that’s safe and friendly for these families,” Autism Society of B.C. Director Anya Walsh said.
“Families love the opportunity to engage in the types of activities that their children typically can’t take part in.”
Walsh said she hopes the idea will catch on with other shopping centres in the region.
Similar events have taken place at other malls across Canada, including one in Edmonton.
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