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Sensitive Santa gives kids a comfortable way to meet with Santa

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:11 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Getting a chance to see Santa Claus at the mall is a memory many people share as a kid, but that interaction can be stressful for some.

Lindale Mall hosted a ‘Sensitive Santa’ event for people who live with a sensory issue or have difficulty in social settings to visit Santa more calmly.

“Separation anxiety is normal for people to contend with during COVID-19,” said David Owens.

Owen’s brought his son, Zayn, to visit Santa Sunday morning. Zayn was born at the beginning of the pandemic and isn’t used to many people being around. He said Zayn would react better while the mall was closed, the lights were dimmed, and the music turned off.

“He’s very easily distracted,” said Erin Owen’s.

Beth Peck of Cedar Rapids also brought her son, Xander. He’s nonverbal and says big crowds, bright lights, and loud noises make him uncomfortable.

“Imagine going to a country and not being able to speak the language to express your basic needs,” said Peck.

Peck said this is a way for kids to make memories they might not otherwise be able to make.

“You have to be very careful where you go,” she said. “You have to know how many people are around; what could trigger him? This allows the kids a chance to be a kid in a way that’s comfortable for them.

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