Children with autism will be given the opportunity to meet with Santa away from the noisy crowds this Christmas to ensure their wish list makes it to the North Pole.
Ocean Keys Shopping Centre has had a quiet word to the elves and has organised Father Christmas to meet with children on the autism spectrum in a calm, quiet environment.
People on the autism spectrum can find noisy and crowded places unduly stressful, making Christmas crowds particularly difficult.
Merriwa mum Lisa Evans said her son Ethan, who is autistic and has an intellectual disability, is looking forward to meeting Santa in a peaceful environment.
Kaitlyn Evans, 9, and her brother Ethan, 11, get their photo taken with Santa.
“Ethan is absolutely obsessed with Christmas and Santa, he gets so excited every year but going to a shopping mall to see Santa can be difficult and it needs to be carefully planned out,” Ms Evans said.
“Sensory overload is something we need to manage in busy places. Ethan can get very overwhelmed by crowds, lights and loud noise and something like queuing can be seriously challenging as he doesn’t understand the concept of waiting in line.
“He can get panicked and if people are too close may yell at them or he might end up curling in a ball on the floor.”
Sensitive Santa at Ocean Keys Shopping Centre will take place on December 3 and is open to families of children on the autism spectrum or with additional needs.
Families can book a time by calling Centre Management on 9407 2400.