Courtesy of KFM Making a Difference

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

By
Share
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:

We don’t want them to feel rushed. We don’t want them to feel overloaded. We just want to make it a labor of love.
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

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}