Children with special needs invited to meet Santa Claus in Eden Prairie

- The holiday season is here with Santa Claus popping up already at most of the malls around the metro. But at Eden Prairie Center, Santa is showing his sensitive side by offering a calm, understanding visit for children with special needs.

Christmas time is bright, colorful, and busy at the mall. But what many of us love about the holidays can be terrifying for some children, especially those with special needs. That's why the mall in Eden Prairie is dedicating time on Sunday morning to take the Santa Claus experience down a notch.

“We have all the lights in the mall off,” Shannon Rasmussen, Eden Prairie Center, said. “Escalators are off, just the lights on the Christmas set and Santa. And there are very few people in the mall while it goes on. Sensory friendly.”

Although not exclusive to children with autism and sensory disorders, there will be trained experts on hand to explain to families what will happen every step of the way, which is crucial since not knowing what's next can be a major challenge for those on the spectrum.

“It gives the families the opportunity to do something that everybody else is doing with their children,” Lisa Sieben, Autism Society of Minnesota, said.

The event happens this Sunday morning before the mall even opens from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. It's best to make an appointment. To do that, click here.

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