CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts children with Autism celebrated the holiday season Saturday, their way. Celebrating the holidays can bring anxiety for children with autism.
The bright lights, the chaos, and the noise can be stressful, so, Chicopee Light it up Blue for Autism, held a sensory friendly visit with Santa Saturday, at the Moose Club in Chicopee.
Marisa Carpenter, from the Chicopee Light it up Blue for Autism told 22News this is all about the kids and them enjoying themselves, “Our kids always have a hard time dealing with malls and crowds and everything and I just wanted to have an event for people for families. Have a day to themselves and not have to keep everything in and enjoy themselves, that’s what Christmas is all about.”
As a sensory event the lights were kept on, music was low, and there were no blinking lights.
For parents of children with autism, a simple trip, like going to mall to see Santa, can present its challenges, which is why Chicopee Light it up Blue decided to do something specifically for children with autism.
Crystal Rocco, whose son has autism told 22News it can be hard to find people who relate in other public places, “When we go to the mall or we go certain places not everybody understands what you’re going thru. My son can screech. He can yell. He can just have a meltdown and not everybody understands those situations, but everybody here, obviously has a child on the spectrum and they know exactly what you’re going thru.”
So instead of going to the mall to have their picture taken with Santa, he came to them, and the Marine corps came bearing gifts for every child.
Corporal Justin Middlemiss told 22News, “Why not give back to the Moose Lodge. Give back to the community. Bring a couple boxes of toys and have them pick out what they want. So, Merry Christmas to everyone. They look like they’re loving it.”
And there was plenty of holiday cheer.
Kids sang Christmas carols, decorated cookies and enjoyed an arts and craft table.
Most importantly, kids and parents could relax, without people judging the behavior of their child, without understanding their disorder.