Sensory Friendly Santa Experiences For Kids With Special Needs
For kids with special needs, visiting Santa can be an overwhelming and sometimes scary experience.
To ensure everyone gets to experience the festivities, we've searched high and low for some of the best experiences that cater for children with additional needs.
These sensory friendly places have gone above and beyond in the past and, in some cases, come highly recommended by numerous parents across Ireland.
The enchanted forest located in the Dublin mountains will be adapting their usual Santa experience next month on the 11th, 12th, 14th and 23rd for a second year following positive feedback from the public last year. The sensory-friendly event will cater for children with additional needs; each Santas have been fully trained and each child will be given all the time they need. Luggwoods also offer discounted carer rates, they just ask you email them before booking.
For more information visit: www.luggwoods.ie
2. Winterval, Waterford
Ireland's largest Christmas festival has designed an event especially adapted for kids with special needs this year. An experienced 'Sensory Santa' will be at the Old Postal Sorting Centre in Custom House Quay on December 13th. The evening will be a calm and relaxing autism-friendly environment with numerous adaptions made to the usual Grotto including music being lower than normal. Tickets are limited and pre-booking is essential.
For more information visit: www.winterval.ie
3. Silent Santa, Portlaoise
Silent Santa is coming back to Macra Hall again this year with an extra special experience. Anyone with a child on the Autism spectrum will know how difficult Christmas can be with the loud noises, bright lights and large crowds. The guys behind Silent Santa advise all parents to bring a gift for their own child because only they know what your child would like. Silent Santa runs the first three weekends in December. Visits to Silent Santa are free but strictly by appointment. At present, it is booked out but a cancellation list is in operation.
For more information visit their Facebook page
4. Sensory Santa at Burren Nature Sanctuary, Galway
This year the Burren Nature Sanctuary are inviting children with ASD and sensory issues, along with their families to visit Santa in a whole new way. The sanctuary has created a relaxed atmosphere with subtle lighting and low music in a calmer than usual environment. Booking is essential by phone, to reserve a spot call 091 637 444.
For more information visit: www.bns.ie
5. Signing Santa, Portlaoise
For one day only Santa, Mrs Claus and their elves will be at The Pantry, Main Street, Portlaoise to provide the deaf, hard of hearing and children of deaf adults with a unique opportunity to meet and communicate with a Santa using Irish Sign Language (ISL). This is a free event run by volunteers that is strictly by appointment only on December 2nd. Parents are being asked to bring along a gift for their child to be discreetly given to Santa for your child before you enter.
For more information visit their Facebook event.
6. Sensory Santa Castlecomer, Kilkenny
Castlecomer Discovery Park the not-for-profit outdoor park know all to well that the lights, smells and crowds at Christmas can be extremely overwhelming to anyone who has sensory issues. So they have decided to create a sensory friendly event for children with autism or sensory processing difficulties on December 7th at 4pm. Booking is not available online. They recommend you contact them by phone on 056 4440707 or by emailing [email protected]
For more information visit: www.discoverypark.ie
If you know of any other sensory friendly Santa experiences be sure to let us know in the comments so we can them to our list.
Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of kids aged 2, 3, 4 and 8. A self-confessed procrastinator and picker-upper of things, Kellie's love include coffee, doughnuts, travel and sharing every day true to life moments on Instagram of her expanding family. Follow her on Instagram.