• Sat, Nov 30 - 5:00 pm ET

Canadian Malls Are Offering ‘Quiet’ Santa Visits For Kids With Autism And It’s Totally Heartwarming

On of my most and least favorite parts of Christmas now that I have kids is visiting the mall Santa. While I love the adorable photos and seeing my kids interact with their hero, “Santa,” I hate the crowds, the noise and the stress. So I can’t imagine how difficult this situation must be for parents with children who have autism and are easily stimulated. To help these kids and parents, some malls in Canada are now offering special quiet Santa visits for these kids, so they can experience the fun without the stimulation or stress.

These visits are scheduled to occur prior to opening, so parents can bring their kids in and beat the crowds. Nine malls are currently participating, which is a whopping eight more than last year. I so hope that this becomes a trend. According to one thankful mom, Carol Blossom:

“It’s about making it accessible to [my son] and all the other kiddos. It’s such a big deal to me and other people too –- to come and see Santa.”

I think this wonderful gesture is beautiful, and a powerful thing to see during this “Black Friday” weekend when so many people are focused on getting deals, and less on helping their fellow person.

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  • AP

    The Arsenal Mall in Watertown, MA featured these last year, too. Though I do wonder why so many parents feel obligated to subject their children to visit with Santa, autism or not- a lot of kids don’t like sitting on a stranger’s lap, and it’s perfectly fine if they don’t want to go! (I never cared for visiting Santa, his breath was always stinky no matter which “helper” I saw.)

    • Katherine Handcock

      Definitely this! I think it’s wonderful to have an option for kids who want to see Santa but have trouble with the noise and busy-ness of opening hours, but there are so many parents (of neurotypical kids too!) who force the Santa visit on miserable kids, and I just don’t understand why you would do that.

    • Rachel Sea

      I used to be the Easter Bunny at the mall, and about 1 in 20 kids had an extreme reaction of either rapturous adoration, or terror. Most parents had the good sense to immediately extract their scared child, but there were always a few who were going to get their damn photo, no matter if the kid was screaming. I hated those parents, and was totally unhelpful about making their poor kids sit on my lap.

  • Nic

    There are a few malls in Sydney, Australia offering this service this year too. So great to see these things being established.

    • ElleJai

      And in Melbourne, Australia too. About time!

  • AlexMMR

    A photographer friend of mine does mini studio sessions with her husband as Santa. 30 minutes to get some Santa pictures in a nice studio with a professional photographer, at a scheduled time and reasonable prices. I despise malls, lines, and stressed out kids.

    Guess where I was today!

  • Julie

    The mall in Mentor Ohio does these as well. I think it is awesome, we love our Santa we have had the same one for years he’s so sweet. My daughter loves him!

  • Simone

    My town has a mall with a Mrs Santa for a long time instead of regular old Guy Santa. Lots of mothers prefer her immensely. She’s large, loud, cheerful, and sneaks cigarettes behind the shopping centre. Yes I know the smoking bit sucks, but she’s as hygeinic as possible and she does a great job.

  • Greta

    This is such a wonderful thing, but I hope it doesn’t get “ruined” by parents of non-autistic children who just don’t want to bother waiting in long, noisy lines for the other Santa and end up taking over the quiet Santa visits.