When Santa Boe Visits with Special Children

When Santa Boe Visits with Special Children


When a child with special needs is involved, it’s important to approach their Santa Claus visit with extra care and consideration. Here are some  suggestions to consider in helping to make the experience enjoyable and comfortable for the child:

  1. Preparation and Communication: Talk to the child beforehand about the upcoming visit from Santa. Use clear and simple language to explain what to expect. Visual aids, social stories, or videos can be helpful in preparing them.

  2. Choose the Right Setting: Consider the child’s sensory sensitivities and comfort level. Select a quiet and familiar environment where the child feels safe, often a home visit is ideal given the nature of public events.

  3. Meet Special Requirements: If the child has specific requirements or accommodations, such as a wheelchair or communication device, ensure that these are accommodated during the visit.

  4. Sensory-Friendly Santa: Some places offer sensory-friendly Santa visits, where the lights and sounds are toned down, and the child can have a calm and comfortable interaction. Look for these options in your community.

  5. Familiar Faces: If possible, have someone the child knows and trusts to attend the visit, such as a friend. Familiarity can help ease anxiety.

  6. Take Your Time: Be patient and give the child plenty of time to warm up to Santa. Allow them to observe from a distance before attempting direct interaction.

  7. Non-Verbal Communication: Santa tries to be attentive to non-verbal cues, however, some have limited verbal communication skills. It’s important to share with Santa certain gestures, expressions, or other ways they may express their feelings.

  8. Use Visual Supports: Visual aids like picture cards or a visual schedule can help the child understand the sequence of events during the visit.

  9. Respect Sensory Needs: Be mindful of the child’s sensory sensitivities. Avoid overwhelming them with loud music or bright lights. Let the child control the level of physical contact, if they are comfortable with it.

  10. Provide a Safe Space: Have a designated quiet space nearby where the child can retreat if they become overwhelmed. This can serve as a safe haven during the visit.

  11. Be Flexible: Be open to adjusting your plans based on the child’s needs and comfort level. It’s important to prioritize their well-being and comfort.

  12. Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise or rewards to encourage  participation and cooperation during the visit.

  13. Respect Boundaries: Santa knows that some children are not comfortable with physical contact or sitting on Santa’s lap, respect their boundaries. A high-five or a wave to Santa can be just as meaningful.

  14. Capture the Moment: If possible, capture the child’s interaction with Santa through photos or videos. These can be cherished memories for both the child and the family.

  15. Encourage Inclusivity: We are strong advocates for inclusive Santa experiences where all children, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy the magic of the holiday season.

We acknowledge that every child with special needs is unique, and their comfort level and preferences may vary.  We do our best to be flexible, patient, and compassionate during your visit, and prioritize the child’s well-being and comfort above all else.

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