Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Jan. 21


Posted Jan. 10

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney




(Updated 7:30 a.m., Dec.13)
Children with autistic spectrum disorders get special visit with Santa

By Fred Sherwin
The Orléans Star

More than 60 area children living with autism and other autism spectrum disorders were able to have a special visit with Santa this year thanks to the folks at and Place d’Orléans.

Five-year-old Adelynn waited patiently for nearly 20 minutes before she got her turn with the Jolly Old Elf and the smile on her face and the twinkle in her eyes spoke volumes about what the moment meant for the young girl who suffers from Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that causes a pro-gressive inability to use muscles for eye and body movements and speech.

Adelynn, 5, was all smiles when she visited with Santa at Place d’Orléans on Nov. 24 during the special Sensory Santa Session for kids with autism spectrum disorders. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The special Sensory Santa Session was co-organized by Place d’Orléans and Quick Start: Early Intervention for Autism.

This is the second year the event has been held and the response has been tremendous, with the number of kids able to see Santa more than doubling.

Because children with autistic syndrome disorders don’t fare well in environments where there is a lot of noise and other sensory distractions, the event was held early Sunday morning when mall traffic is at its lowest. The Christmas music was also turned off and Santa left his jingle bells on his sleigh.

As part of the promotion, Place d’Orléans provided each family with a complimentary photo.

“Last year was the first time we did it and without hesitation we said yes,” said Place d’Orléans marketing manager Emma Martin. “It’s a wonderful initiative for the kids to be able to see Santa and have their picture taken with him.”

Quick Start co-founder Suzanne Jacobsen said the Sensory Santa Sessions, which were held in five different malls this year, are a godsend for families with children suffering from autism and other neurological disorders.

“So many families could never bring their kids to see Santa because it was too noisy in the mall and there was too much happening so the kids would end up having a meltdown before they could get to see Santa,” explains Jacobsen. “So then I started speaking with the malls and they were all very supportive in setting time aside so kids with autistic spectrum disorders could visit with him.”

Adelynn’s mother, Paola, was one of those parents who was very appreciative that Place d’Orléans held the special session again this year.

“We really appreciate this. A lot of children with special needs don’t like crowds. They don’t like a lot of noise so this is perfect for these children,” said Paola.

And Santa was all too happy to chat with each and every child and get their Christmas wishes firsthand rather than read them in a letter.

“You know every child is special to Santa, so it’s wonderful that Place d’Orléans and the other malls that I visit are able to do this,” said Santa during a break in the action.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)





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