Visiting Santa at the local mall is a rite of passage for many Canadian kids. But, for those on the Autism spectrum, the crowds, noise, and idea of sitting on a stranger's lap is too overwhelming.
However, some dedicated Santas are making sure no one has to miss out. Several organizations in Canada are offering time with "Sensitive Santas" — a quieter, more intimate experience with Saint Nick.
"Our Santa will watch a movie with your little one, they’ll read a book with them, it’s a low-pressure situation," said Mickelson.
In Saskatchewan, Autism Services Saskatoon partnered with Lawson Heights Mall to allow parents of kids with special needs to visit Santa after hours once the crowds have gone home.
Northgate Square Mall in North Bay, Ontario, had their own Sensitive Santa on hand with help from Autism Ontario. Two dozen families stopped by for appointments with the jolly guy in a relaxing environment with dimmed lighting before the mall opened.
Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.
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