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Sensory-Friendly Christmas Experience Lets Kids With Autism Enjoy Time With Santa

For the last several Christmases, activist Kerry Magro has dressed up as Santa in order to offer kids a "sensory-friendly" visit with Kris Kringle.

Growing up, Kerry Magro always felt left out when it came to visiting Santa. Due to his autism, Magro had sensory problems that made the idea of going to a giant mall nearly impossible. The blasting music, bright lights, and huge crowds of people were simply too overwhelming. Now, the 29-year-old author, activist, and motivational speaker has figured out a way to ensure that kids with autism will get the full experience of the Christmas season, including a Santa visit: For the last several Christmases, Magro has dressed up as Santa and provided kids a “sensory-friendly” visit with old Kris Kringle.

For Magro’s Christmas visit, parents can sign their kids up for 30-minute sessions with Santa. Up to eight children allowed during any given session. Lights and music are turned down in case they might disturb or distract children too much and occupational, speech, and physical therapists (sometimes dressed as Santa’s elves) are there to assist and provide support to any kids who may require extra assistance. “We don’t want them to feel rushed. We don’t want them to feel overloaded,” Magro told  Huffington Post. “We just want to make it a labor of love.”

In his three years as Santa, Magro estimates he has spent time with more than 500 kids with a variety of disorders, including autism and attention-deficit. This year, Magro is hosting another sensory-friendly Santa event in Jersey City on December 9-10 through his nonprofit KFM Making a Difference, which is “an organization focused on spreading disability awareness and giving scholarships for students with autism to pursue a post-secondary education.” Parents in the area can reserve their child a spot online and thanks to Magro’s generosity, more children will be able to meet the Santa he always wanted to meet.