Sensitive Santa comes to malls in South Dakota

Sensory friendly time with Santa

Before the mall opened, they hosted Sensitive Santa, an event geared toward children with disabilities that cause them to struggle with noisy and crowded environments.

That's why ten years ago the Barber National Institute launched a sensory Santa event.

"I have families who say this is a tradition for their family or we would never be able to have our children see Santa so it's our way at the Institute to give back to the Erie community", said Dr. Barber-Carey. To accommodate them, the mall put on low lights, turned off all music and other sounds to keep the set quiet.

Turtle Creek Mall General Manager, Stacy Woodard, says she's excited the mall could offer this personal experience for children with special needs.

"I'm always appreciative of any type of event or anything that specifies time for special needs because it is a lot harder than people realize and it's nice to have a little help", said Jan Smith, whose son also has special needs.

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Two years ago, Patrick was arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges and suspended one game. Patrick was a passenger in a vehicle driven by wide receiver Jayson Stanley.

But, that trip to see Santa can be more hard for some families like Nygaards, with children on the Autism spectrum.

"The children's families are able to make an appointment so the children don't have to wait in line quite as long, and it generally makes for a much more positive meaningful experience with Santa", Pinsky said. He gets overstimulated with the crowds.

Luke has autism and for him, visiting Santa under normal conditions "would just be sensory overload", his mother said.

Vanessa Avila brought her daughter and her non-verbal four year old son, Nathan. "This is the first time he would talk to Santa and actually sit on his lap" says Whitney Wardlow.

Police say someone on the naughty list stole a Santa suit and hat valued together at $520 from a Pennsylvania mall.

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