Offering Individualized

Educational Programs For K-12 Students

SENSORY INSPIRED SANTA EXPERIENCE FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS – Sensitive Santa Event Scheduled for East and West Valley Locations

by Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen



AUTISM ACADEMY – Kerrie Mallory-Thompson is no ordinary mom – she has a direct connection with Kris Kringle – the holiday icon that most kids call “Santa Claus”.

Her holiday vision is spreading compassion and hope to hundreds of children with sensory sensitivities and other special needs. Mallory-Thompson is an Autism Speaks board member, Secretary for Autism Society of Greater Phoenix, a hard working mother of an 8-year-old with autism, and the founder of Sensitive Santa.

“I wear a lot of hats,” she said. “I’m proud to say that our community has embraced this event more than I ever expected.”

Arizona Autism Network of the West Valley, together with Team 4 Kids and Autism Academy are hosting the unique family affair. With overwhelming support the two events are scheduled to host nearly 1000 children in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

“This is not just an event for kids with autism,” Mallory-Thompson said. “It’s for anybody who gets overwhelmed, over-stimulated, or need some extra time to get in the door to see Santa.”

Sensitive Santa is a fun opportunity for families of children with disabilities of all kinds to come together and celebrate in an environment that specifically caters to special needs. They laugh, play, eat free snacks, and participates in crafts, until it’s their individual turn to enter a modestly decorated winter wonderland to talk and take pictures with Santa.

“It gives kids the opportunity to see and experience Santa one-on-one with no judgment in their comfort zone.” Mallory-Thompson explained. “I can’t take my kid to the mall and have him stand in a line and deal with that.”

Sensitive Santa allows this holiday tradition to continue uninterrupted.

“Our Sensitive Santa Events provide a supportive environment which eliminates bright lights and loud noises that can trigger sensory sensitivities for someone on the spectrum,” said director of Autism Academy Shannon Mitchell.

In this sensory sensitive environment, children with special needs, along with their families, will experience a positive encounter with Santa in a sensory sensitive wonderland.




Saturday, December 9, 2017

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

6810 W. Thunderbird Rd.

Peoria, Arizona 85381



Saturday, December 16, 2017

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

1540 N. Burk Street

Gilbert, Arizona 85234