DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Dayton Mall held its 9th annual “Sensitive Santa” event Sunday morning.
“This is probably our favorite event of the year,” David Casper, the mall’s marketing director said, “It’s for children on the autism spectrum what we do is we turn down the lights, we turn off the music and we take the children over one at a time to see Santa so that they can see Santa on their own terms.”
Each year, Sarah Brewer brings her family to the event.
“None of the Cincinnati malls do this, so we come up to the Dayton Mall and we sincerely appreciate the effort they go to, to put this event on for all of us,” Brewer said, “My daughter is twelve. She has a chromosomal deletion. So she’s had special needs since birth. This is such a special event that we look forward to every year to see Sensitive Santa. It’s quiet in the mall, the mall’s not open so it’s the one time as a family that we can come in a nice atmosphere for her to get to enjoy a holiday tradition.”
One that Casper says more and more area families are making.
“Many families come back every year. We have lots of families who come back every year. I think Santa really enjoys it as well. It’s an interesting experience many of the children do not get on Santa’s lap. They just get near Santa. Many are nonverbal. So it’s a real interesting experience for him as well,” he said.
According to the Autism Speaks website. More than 180 malls across the country are participating in similar sensory-friendly events.
Click here for a list.