Autism-friendly Santa greets children in Colorado Springs


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Meeting Santa can be really exciting, but also a little scary for some children. But here in Colorado Springs, the man in red is hoping to make it a special memory for everyone.

ACI Learning Centers brought in autism-friendly Santa Saturday so that autistic and disabled children had a chance to tell him what they wanted for Christmas in a safe environment.

“The kids get to come in and enjoy doing a special craft, jumping on the trampoline, running around,” ACI Learning Centers CEO Nancy Champlin said. “We take that extra time. If they’re really unsure of coming out to visit Santa, they can come in and out several times, give him a high-five.”

Several families came in to get their pictures take with Santa. Many of them said they’re grateful to have an event like this. They said oftentimes, going to see Santa at the mall and waiting in line with a lot of other people can be stressful for the whole family.

“It’s very difficult when you have children like ours to take them to places with the lines and the crowds and the noise,” mom Tracy Kime said. “It’s very difficult. You always have to take extra time to explain to everyone what’s going on, and to be able to come here and have everyone understand it means everything to me.”

This is the second year the group has brought in the friendly Santa, and they plan to continue the tradition in the future.

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