More and more businesses are adapting their Santa experiences to make them more sensory-friendly and inclusive.
Getting out and about to Santa over Christmas can be stressful in itself what with traffic, queues, bright lights and noise but for those with additional needs it can cause a complete sensory overload meaning many families across Ireland have to miss out.
However, over the years more and more businesses are adapting their Santa experiences to make them more sensory-friendly and inclusive meaning families with children of all abilities don't miss out on the
magic of Christmas.
If you're looking for an event this Christmas to enjoy that has been fully adapted to suit the needs of children on the spectrum, here are some of our favourites:
Santa's Magical Trail at the Clanard Court Hotel, Athy
Supported and trained by www.asiam.ie, the team at Santa's Magical Trail are offering a patient, calm and quiet sleepover and trail experience with fewer numbers, low volume music, no flashing lights and minimised queuing times. Both hotel staff and elves will be trained in how to interact with children and more time will be allocated at the farm, with Santa and autism-friendly gifts will be given to children.
North Pole Outpost Experience, Cobh
Create magical memories together with an unforgettable adventure at the Cork North Pole Outpost with numerous ASD friendly times during the month of December. Ahead of your visit, each family will receive a printed booklet to prepare you for your visit, no flashing lights will be used, music will be soft and low and there will be no open lit fires in the house for the duration of the visit. Groups are limited to 25 people or less, all guide dogs and assistance dogs are welcome and the Elves will be focusing on engagement and interaction rather than a script for the duration of the experience.
Luggwoods Enchanted Forest, Dublin
This year Luggwoods have allocated specific time slots for little ones with sensory issues to enable them to experience the magical enchanted forest in a more relaxed sensory-friendly setting complete with soothing music, dimly lit lights and of course cast members will be briefed to help those with additional needs to have an experience they will never forget.
Santa's House Express, Palmerstown House, Kildare
Santa's House Express is offering various autism-friendly allocated slots throughout the month of November and December with discounted rates, reduced numbers and lots of other amendments to make sure your time there is as comfortable as possible, especially for each child's individual needs including wheelchair users.
Santa's Enchanted Castle, Enniscorthy This year Santa's Enchanted Castle has set aside specific tours specially designed to support the sensory, physical and developmental needs of all kids. The tours are limited to six children per group, start with a
visual social story and offer a unique experience of the magic of Christmas in a gentle and relaxed environment. To top it off, Santa's Enchanted Castle will have a Special Needs Assistant on hand during the Sensitive Santa Tour.
Westport House, Mayo
On Friday, December 6th, Westport House's Winter Wonderland will be a Sensory Santa Day for families with children with autism or sensory issues. The guided tour will have fewer children per group, little to no queuing and noise will be kept to a minimum.
Delta Sensory Gardens, Carlow
Offering an experience like no other, the Delta Sensory Gardens have transformed their grotto making it a calm and relaxing place for children with autism, special needs and sensory disorders. Complete with soft lights, soothing music and a specially selected team of Elves it will be a sensory experience to remember.
And finally, this year at Arnotts department store in Dublin will be offering sensory-friendly Santa slots from November 17th. Simply just ring to book a time. Santa Claus at Arnotts is free, however, they do ask families to make a small donation when you visit. 100% of all profits go to Saint Vincent de Paul.