Until last year, Debbie Lashbaugh’s grandson couldn’t visit Santa.
The mall was just too much for him.
“You cannot take him to Walmart, you cannot take him to the mall, because he melts down,” Lashbaugh said of her grandson Chase, 5, who is autistic.
“He cries and has a fit. … Most autistic children have sensory disorder. To go somewhere where there is bright lights and loud noise is too much stimulation.”
Then last year, a mall near Chase’s home in Dayton, Ohio, offered a special time for autistic children to visit Santa.
“All the other stores were closed,” Lashbaugh said. “The music was just barely audible, just barely. They did not have all the overhead lights on. It was a very serene environment.”
This year, Country Club Mall in LaVale is offering a similar program. “Sensitive Santa” is scheduled for 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 6 — before the mall opens to the public.
The event is only open to families of children with autism. For more information, call Lashbaugh at (301) 707-0139.