Christmas is here and kids will be seeing Santa Claus, party with friends and get gifts but as usual, many kids with special needs might be left out of the fun if proper care is not taken to ensure they enjoy inclusive and accessible Santa events.
Accessibility and inclusion during Santa Claus experience are important but how friendly are Santas when it comes to inclusive and accessible Santa Claus experience for kids with disabilities? Research reveals that many Santas are attending workshops and lectures on how to relate with kids with physical or mental disabilities during the Christmas season. They are learning about how to encourage children to feel good about themselves, how to improve their story-telling, the use of basic sign-language and first aid, some of them are even autism certified!
Santas should know more about kids who are ‘nice,' ‘naughty' or ‘neurological,' right? But what does Santa want parents to know? Santas want parents to work with them in helping kids with disabilities enjoy the holidays. They really want parents to know the following:
- Santa is not a “weapon” or a threat: Parents need to stop threatening kids, especially, kids with autism with the message that Santa is not going to come. A parent should know that Santa is a gift of heart and love – don't let that become a weapon just because angry with the kids.
- Avoid the rush: Kids with disabilities will be able to enjoy themselves to the fullest if their parents bring them to see Santa early during this Christmas, most especially, at a time when it's less crowded and stressful. You can make special arrangements if needed. Santas often see a few kids outside of regular “Santa hours” to help all kids connect to the Big Man in Red. You can even request a special home visit for kids with disabilities.
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