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Mall Offers 'Quiet' Santa Visits for Kids with Autism

Malls institute "quiet" Santa visits for kids with autism
Photograph by Getty Images/Design Pics RF

A chance to sit with Santa and spill your entire wish list (as crazy and out-there as it may be) is pretty much the highlight of most kids' holiday season. But for those with autism and sensory issues, the loud, somewhat chaotic scene in the middle of the mall isn't exactly a place they want to be.

This year, though, kids in Virginia with autism may not have to deal with the loud noises, the crowded lines, and the overstimulation that comes with a trip to see Santa for much longer. One Virginia Beach mall is offering an alternative for kids with autism: It's opening its doors before hours for the chance to sit with Mr. Claus himself. And we're hoping the rest of the country catches on.

WVEC News 13 was right there at the Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia this weekend, as mom Penny Madsen watched her kids hop on Santa's lap.

“He’s such a great kid,” Madsen said of her son Cylus, who has autism. “But he has such an aversion to other people, strangers usually. It’s really difficult to get him to really warm up to people, so when he just jumped on his seat with Santa, it really tore me up.”

Another mom, Janice Woodson, watched with pride as her son Jaylan met Santa. “Any picture we can get with a smile or with him not crying or spazzing, it’s a good day," she told reporters.

A simple move, yet totally worth it. How long before more malls follow suit?

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