Spending a few minutes with Santa at a mall or a Christmas party is a great joy for young children. But for children with autism, a busy setting with bright lights and loud noises isn't fun. That's why there's an opportunity in Madison, Wisconsin to meet Santa in a quieter environment:
For kids like William, the stimulation of lights and crowds and noise – three aspects inherent of just about every shopping mall, especially at holiday time – is simply too much.
"For them to not be able to have that," said Dena, "they're just missing out."
But this year, the Sekels' holiday wish has already come true.
"We were like, we have to go to this, this is our one chance to actually go," said Dena.
That chance came when they heard of an event in Madison that offered a quieter visit with Santa, particularly for kids with special needs.
That quieter visit was with a Santa Helper named Jim Sheldon, one of many helpers that take requests at malls while the real Santa is busy at the North Pole.
"Mall Santas and kids with sensory issues? That's a mess," said Sheldon.