When I started my photography business it was really important to me that I stay connected with my first passion, working with children and families on the Autism spectrum. Whenever I have an opportunity to combine photography and working with these amazing kids I love to take advantage of it. One of my favorite opportunities to do so has been the Quiet Santa event, which is a sensory friendly event specifically for children with Autism and other special needs. This is such a great organization that provides children and their families with a memorable opportunity that they may not otherwise be able to have due to sensory overload, etc.
Seeing Santa in the mall may seem like no big deal to some, but when you are a family with special needs, sometimes you just really want to do ‘normal’ things with your kids so they can have the same experiences as their peers. This is one thing that Quiet Santa provides for so many children. Families who have a child with Autism or other special needs understand how waiting in a long line, standing with strangers, having a lot of noise and other stimulation around can just be way too much to handle. Often times children don’t make it to meet Santa at all, or by the time they do, they’ve used up a lot of their energy just keeping it together in the hustle and bustle of the crowd.
Quiet Santa provides a waiting room with activities while the kids are waiting for their turn to see Santa. Once he’s ready for your visit, you are escorted into a cozy private room where Santa and the photographer are waiting. It is a calm experience that is not rushed or hurried. Santa follows the children’s lead and allows them to warm up in their own time. As if the experience couldn’t be better, this is a completely free event, you simply need to register!
I asked Julie Sheldon, the founder and organizer of Quiet Santa what this experience means to her and she says they are honored to be able to provide this opportunity to families. Adding, “What we didn’t know is how rewarding it would become. Seeing shy or non-verbal children light up and open up to Santa is huge! Knowing they are making a connection with the Big Guy is incredibly heartwarming. Our goal is to provide a customizable and memorable visit for children with special needs and their families. If we can add a bit of magic to their holiday season, take away little stress, and leave them with a happy memory, then we’ve succeeded”!
If you are interested in participating or donating to Quiet Santa, please visit their website or facebook page. You can also email Julie directly at [email protected] This year’s event was the biggest turn out yet-so they are expecting next year to be just as much of a hit!