Organization takes Santa pictures for kids with autism, other special needs

AANEA holds 'Sensory Santa' for kids

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Christmas tradition for some can be an overwhelming experience for kids with autism and other special needs.

Kids across the country are flocking to malls to get their picture taken with Saint Nick.

But with so much activity and crowds of people, it can be too much for some kids to handle.

So the Autism Association of Northeast Arkansas set up their own little North Pole.

That way, every kid can sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.

“It just helps them to be comfortable and feel safe with Santa,” Photographer Hannah Tagge said. “There was one little girl that came in earlier, and she just ran up and saying I love you Santa, and she told him what she wanted, it was just so sweet.”

Sensory Santa is available for pictures for one weekend only, Dec. 15 - 16.

They’re taken by a local photographer, volunteering because the kids hold a special place in her heart.

"I have a few friends that have children with special needs and autism," Tagge said. "And I just love their kids and I just want to help out in any way I can."

They finished up around noon Saturday and will be taking Christmas pictures again Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

There is a waiting list for appointments, but AANEA tries to get as many kids in as possible.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.