Local Group Makes Christmas Photos Easier For Special Needs Families 11/20/12
CBS 7 News
November 20, 2012
One local group is making sure every child has a fun experience with Santa this year, and local malls are joining in on the effort to start a new holiday tradition for families with special needs children.
Midessa Special Needs Moms and SHARE is hosting Sensory Santa, an afternoon with Santa at Mission Fitness in Odessa on December 9 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., that is catered to families of children with autism and other sensory challenges.
Founder of the Permian Basin Autism Walk and Program Coordinator for SHARE Malissa Roach, said instead of waiting in lines, families will be handed a number and given the opportunity to participate in activities while they wait for a free photo with Santa.
“We try to form events for parents so they feel safe and that they are not judged,” Roach said. “So they don’t feel like they have to explain themselves when their child acts up.”
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects social and sensory skills, which can cause difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and sensitivity to bright light and loud noise.
Roach said even Santa would be aware of the sensitivities that are common to special needs children.
“I was telling him, these children may not want to sit on your lap or they may be afraid, and he said ‘oh, just like every other child’ and I was like ‘yes, just like every other child except these children have a few differences,” said Roach.
Roach’s own grandson is autistic and since his diagnosis, she’s been helping families and spreading awareness throughout the Basin.
After the first year of Sensory Santa, Music City Mall and Midland Parks Mall will help out special needs children and their families.
On December 2nd from 10a.m. to noon, Caring Santa will be at both malls.
Families can make reservations at www.abilitypath.com.
For more information on Sensory Santa,contact Malissa Roach at 432-349-1069 or Jessica Brijalba at 432-352-2093.