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December 04, 2015

North Carolina child with autism befriends Caring Santa

There are several local Santa appearances geared toward children with special needs

Christmas Autism
Sensitive Santa Autism Speaks /

The "Caring Santa" program at a North Carolina mall makes accommodations for children with special needs.

For a child with autism, visiting Santa Claus can be simply overbearing, from the loud noises down to the long lines. 

But Santa has been bringing a bit of magic to shopping malls and sighting spots around the country by making accommodations for children with special needs, including those with autism.

One such "Caring Santa" program at a North Carolina mall has received national media attention after a mother of a child with autism shared her story and a touching photo with People Magazine. The photo shared with People shows her little boy playing on the floor with the caring Mr. Claus. 

In the photo, above, the boy and Santa lie side-by-side on their stomachs while engaged in play. The mom, Erin Deely, told People she thought she would never get a traditional photo of her child with Santa. 

"...The noise, and the pressure. He gets anxious if you ask him to smile, it's all too much for him," Deely said.

There are several special-needs-focused Santa appearances in the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas, some of which are listed below:

• Sensitive Santa Breakfast & Christmas Photo Event: Fresh Start Church in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, is hosting the event from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 12. Click here for more information.

• Quiet Santa: The Swarthmore Community Center will have a "Quiet Santa" on-site Sunday, Dec. 6, from 1 to 2 p.m. Reservations required. Click here for information.

Read the full People Magazine interview here.