The University of Kentucky College of Education’s chapter of the Student Council for Exceptional Children, in collaboration with the Autism Society of the Bluegrass, hosted a sensory-friendly “Cocoa and Cookies with Santa” event Sunday in the Taylor Education Building.
Navigating crowds and waiting in long lines can be overwhelming for some children. This event was designed to provide a safe, welcoming environment for children to meet Santa and experience the magic of Christmas. Each time slot with Santa was 10 minutes to give children time to warm up to and interact with Santa.
One mother, Anna Joy Bryson, expressed her thanks to the students who organized the event via a Facebook post:
“Let me tell you what an amazing job the University of Kentucky [College of Education] did hosting a sensory-friendly Santa. I mean, wow! Hayden is high-functioning and warmed right up to Santa, but we always avoid crowds during the Christmas season. He gets overwhelmed, has meltdowns, and the worst always comes out. It can make things difficult in many ways. Seeing this Santa today, with only a few people around, was the most amazing experience. Hayden and Jake sat on Santa’s lap, talked to him, and then Jake was done. Hayden stayed in Santa’s lap while talking to him for five more minutes. Then Hayden asked if he could sing. … Santa and his helpers joined in, and it was the sweetest moment. Tears welled up in my eyes. When you have a special needs child, ‘normal’ things can look very different. This was a special, sweet and rare moment. Thank you, UK, for giving my kids this gift.”