Sensitive Santa makes his way to Heartland - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Sensitive Santa makes his way to Heartland

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(KFVS) - The Autism Society of Illinois says 'Sensitive Santa' is a growing trend across the country. The event was very emotional for the parents because some of them thought they'd never see their kids on Santa's lap and now they got pictures to have forever.

"I haven't had a picture with this child with Santa yet and she's 4," Julie Yana, a mother of two, said.

Yana says that's because her daughter can't handle the loud noises and waiting around for Santa at the malls.

"The worst mistake is to try and make a child with autism go at your pace," said Stephanie Brown with the Autism Society of Illinois.

Brown started looking into how to tweak the typical Santa experience.

"I saw an article on 'Sensitive Santa' and I thought what a wonderful idea," Brown said. "We need to do this in our area."

These children got special one-on-one time with Santa.

"In the beginning, they are kind of running around and little anxious maybe crying and then we take our time and this is what you have," Brown said.

"Get that picture that everyone wants of a child smiling and happy and I can be apart of this," Yana said.

"It's really neat," Dr. Todd Smith, one of Santa's helpers, said. "It's something I really didn't think about before I started doing 'Sensitive Santa and when I first saw it happen, I get it now. This is something these families don't otherwise have."

Smith heard about the idea and wanted to be apart of it. He 'Sensitive Santa' one step further, not only did he donate his time, each child received books and toys from Santa.

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