A Sensitive Santa Came to Town


Remember that feeling of seeing Santa for the first time of the year? The excitement?! The joy?! We recently had the chance to re-live those same feelings through the children and adults that joined us at Sensitive Santa this year.

Santa is a popular guy and this year was no different! The sessions were another success with almost 250 families and 500 individuals popping by to see Santa, grab a photo op and experience the magic of Christmas.

Once again, this year we teamed up with some of the biggest shopping centres in Perth to host a series of Sensitive Santa sessions for individuals with Autism and their families. We joined Santa at:

Our Sensitive Santa sessions are held before the shopping centre doors are open to the public to allow families to visit during quiet hours to support their sensory needs. During these hours they get the opportunity to visit Santa, take a photo, and receive a small gift. A big thank you to each of these shopping centres for opening their doors before public hours to allow each family to come in a have a very special moment with Santa all to themselves.

Many children and adults joined us for the first time, others were coming back after many years for more memories. A lot of planning and preparation goes into making these sessions positive for children and families alike. For many families, having this additional quieter time has given them the opportunity to have their very first Christmas holiday photo!

The families loved visiting Santa, check out what they had to say about him below:

  • We take our daughter every year & she loves this. We can’t thank you enough that you organise this for our kids.
  • Wonderful sensory Santa session on the weekend! Thanks to everyone involved in making sure [we] and others had an amazing time and super enjoyable experience. We really appreciate it.
  • Thank you for organising this for our family, as it makes having our yearly Santa photo a great experience for our children that otherwise would not cope with the busy shopping centre to have a photo.
  • Thank you for having this every year. It is a wonderful tradition we have been able to continue with my boys, even though they are not so little anymore.
  • Thank you for continuing this service, it’s so appreciated by the Autism community.
  • Thank you once again for this opportunity to see Santa like this.
  • Thank you for organising this event
  • Thank you for this wonderful experience

What does each visit entail? We provide additional time for the children to warm up, allow the sessions to take place before trading hours or during quieter times of the day, adapt the environment, provide a skilled and knowledgeable staff member to support and coach the photographers and Santa, as well as provide resources and visuals to prepare for the visit.

To support the preparation of these sessions, the Team at the Association developed a Social Story to make the visit to see Santa easier for all. If you weren’t able to visit Sensitive Santa this time but still planning on visiting Santa at your local shopping centre, you can download the Visiting Santa at the Shopping Centre Social Story.

As the Sensitive Santa Sessions are very popular and time slots fill up quickly, families are encouraged to keep an eye out in October/ November to ensure their place . To join the mailing list and be the first in the know when session times are released for Christmas next year, email us at inclusive.communities@autism.org.au.

A very merry Christmas everyone! We hope to see you at the next Sensitive Santa!


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