Autism Family Network hosts holiday party

Published: Dec. 18, 2022 at 1:42 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Humming with energy, a line of families wrapped around a room in the Lincoln Children’s Museum waiting to see Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“I’m excited about going to see Mrs. Claus and Santa Claus what I ask for Christmas,” Darian Fairchild, a 21-year-old who attended the party, said.

But this Santa behaved a little differently than most. He didn’t burst out with loud “ho ho ho’s.” He let the kids lead and matched their energy.

“it gives us the chance to feel welcomed,” Chris Szydelko, a parent of a child with autism, said. “We tried doing it at the mall, and it was too much stimulation for him. Whereas here, she made sure everything they may fear is handled.”

Put on by the Autism Family Network, the holiday party gave people with autism and their families the chance to wander around the museum for two hours and meet Santa in an inviting way.

“With children with autism, a lot of times, you have sensory issues and maybe some abnormal fears,” Cathy Martinez, the AFN president, said. “And this Santa is very patient. And he’s accustomed to working with kids with potential sensory issues.”

It’s also a way to connect. Children--and parents--make friends and learn to accept the little things that make us all different.

“When the kids bump into each other or they accidentally take another child’s toy, you’re going up as a parent and you’re saying, ‘Oh I’m so sorry,’ and they’re like, ‘no, no it’s okay. Mine does it too,’” Szydelko said. “And you know you make friends off of that as well.”