"So with this event we're able to have a special appointment for the families that require it and they can have that special memory with Santa". "I hope that we get more programs in the Pinebelt where the Autistic community can go, have more quiet hours, and act like neurotypical children".
Northlake Mall held a special event called "Soothing Santa" that allows children living with autism to take pictures with Santa and pass along their wish list before the mall opened. Parents say it helps.
"His attitude and his reaction right now, the mood he's in is because of this, you know?" said Smith. Santa's workshop inside the mall is collecting donations for Autism Speaks through the holiday season. "He needs a lit bit more calm so we thought that would be good to do on Sunday morning".
Breanne Hartfield, a parent, says she found out about the event through Facebook and couldn't pass up the opportunity. "It's just really feels great to be able to help families do something that a lot of us take for granted".
Jan Smith says certain noises can upset her son Caleb, so being able to skip long lines made the visit with Santa even more special. "Sometimes we have to miss out on things that we just can't do without these opportunities". "He gets over stimulated by all of the people".
"Everybody can remember back to when they were kids to listening to it and seeing photos from when they were children sitting on Santa's lap and you can kind of see how they've evolved over the years" says Joan Ghan from Northpark Mall.