Courtesy of KFM Making a Difference

This Man With Autism Is Offering Kids Sensory-Friendly Santa Visits, & It's A Great Initiative

Ad failed to load

For many children with autism or sensory processing disorders, the holidays can be a a difficult time. Events like big family gatherings or visiting Santa in a crowded, noisy mall can be challenging for kids who are easily overwhelmed by stimuli — even if they want to take part in the holiday fun. That's why one man with autism is offering kids sensory-friendly Santa visits this year, allowing visiting children to enjoy plenty of time with Santa without the ruckus of an overcrowded mall.

Kerry Magro, a 29-year-old speaker and activist, has been offering up sensory-friendly Santa visits for the last three years with his non-profit organization, KFM Making a Difference. "Growing up with autism, I had challenges in meeting Santa in public places because I dealt with a lot of sensory challenges," Magro told HuffPost recently. "Giant malls were never really an option for me."

Knowing how difficult it can be to find a calm environment for Santa visits, Magro decided to host his own. During KFM Making a Difference's Santa visits, only eight children at a time visit Santa and they get to do so during a relaxed time span of 30 minutes. Visiting kids will be able to take a photo with Santa and do some arts and crafts, and there will be occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists on site to help children and their parents.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of KFM Making a Difference

Magro, who dresses up as Santa for the two-day event, told HuffPost that being able to visit Santa in a quieter environment is a "big deal" for families in his community, saying:

Ad failed to load

KFM Making a Difference's Santa visits will take place at Camp Liberty Educational Arts in Jersey City on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10, and the visits are free for all parents and kids attending (although they should reserve their spot in advance). Those who want to help support the event and KFM Making a Difference — which provides scholarships to university students with autism — are welcome to make a donation or volunteer their time.

If you're not able to make it to Magro's event, though, don't worry: there are plenty of other places where you can find sensory-friendly Santa visits. Advocacy group Autism Speaks will be hosting sensory-friendly Santa visits across the country, and you can find a list of participating locations on the organization's website.

Ad failed to load

According to CNN, one in 68 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, and according to the University of California, up to 16 percent of school-aged children may have sensory processing difficulties. They can have trouble with everything from loud noises to flashes of light, and sensory-friendly Santa visits can help ease the stress of such events.

"When you have a sensory-sensitive child or a special-needs child, you can’t (rush)," one mom visiting a sensory-friendly Santa event, Mickey Teply, told The Chicago Tribune recently. "It’s their time, not your time."

Magro told HuffPost that, when he was growing up, there wasn't much awareness when it came to the needs of children with autism, since it was "a time when a lot of people just really had no idea what autism was." Fortunately, it now seems like both awareness and sensory-friendly events are on the rise, with the number of Autism Speaks Santa events nearly doubling, from 180 last year to 300 this year, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Ad failed to load

With a little bit of planning, every kid can have a visit with Santa this year — and parents can rest easy knowing that it'll be a stress-free environment for their little one.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack