Sensitive Santa event lets children with sensory disorders enjoy Christmas tradition


It’s a Christmas tradition for kids to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.

But bright lights and big crowds can be overwhelming for children with sensory disorders like autism.

The Mall at Johnson City hosted its annual Sensitive Santa event Sunday morning.

The mall has partnered with Autism Speaks for seven years now. General Manager Tembra Aldridge said about 120 malls across the country open their doors early, turn down their lights and go the extra mile to accommodate kids with special needs. 

“It allows people and families to be able to have pictures made with Santa that they normally wouldn’t be able to,” said Aldridge. 

Aldridge said this event is her favorite of the year. She said the best part is seeing how the kids become more comfortable year-to-year.

Parents called it a special and inclusive opportunity for their kids to bond with those that share their struggles.

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