CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For children with special needs, life presents different challenges. But sensory-friendly events, like Santa Cares, can offer a sense of normalcy.
On Sunday morning, children with special needs got some one-on-one time with Santa Claus at La Palmera Mall.
One child who participated in Sunday morning's event was Matty. He turned 8-years-old last week. He loves to go to school and listen to music.
"He's just a regular little boy. He likes TV and likes to hang out. And meet Santa, he pulled his beard a couple of times." James Silva said.
Matty has cerebral palsy, and this morning at La Palmera Mall's Santa Cares event, he got to spend time with Santa Claus. His dad says they do their best to keep him active.
"Just taking him out, taking him to restaurants, and keeping it every day life," Silva says, "keeping it normal as much as we can. "
And normalcy for many 8-year-olds during the holiday, is getting a photo taken with Santa. In this case, without long lines or loud music.
Gary Robinson is a district manager for Cherry Hill Programs, the company that oversees photos at La Palmera Mall. He says Santa Cares has been a huge success.
"It keeps growing, it's a great demand," Robinson says, "the parents and the kids love it."
Through a partnership with Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks, special needs children and their families get to visit with Old Saint Nick.
Santa Cares provides quiet one-on-one time with Santa, before the mall opens. And that quiet environment is especially important for children with Autism, like seven-year-old, Landon Jones.
"In order for him to come and do things earlier and not experience that breakdown, it's really a relief as a parent." Santos Jones, his father, said. "It's important, that they still feel like they are part of a community, that they're still loved and cared for."
And that they can still do the things other kids do, like visit with Santa Claus.
"He was super excited, also to get his Christmas list out, that way he gets to get his Christmas list out and see what will be waiting for him at Christmas."
And if you are wondering what Landon told Santa...
"Virtual reality goggles." Landon said.
May all your Christmas wishes come true, Landon.
For more information, visit https://www.lapalmera.com/events/santa-cares-copy/.