Christmas isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year for children with sensory or other special needs, such as autism. In fact, a visit to sit on Santa’s lap can be downright scary for the children and frustrating for parents that simply want to give their child a good experience with such a time-honored tradition.
This year, the Forsyth County Public Library will offer a Sensitive Santa program in hopes of giving those special children and their families a more positive and memorable experience with Santa Claus. The program will be held at the Hampton Park Library on Saturday, December 13 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“We understand how challenging it can be for a child with sensory or other special needs to wait in line, be overwhelmed with noises, sounds, and smells, and then rushed to sit on the lap of a person they don’t know very well,” says Stephanie Hampson, Youth Services Supervisor at the Hampton Park Library. “Many of those families have given up on the possibility that their children might have a positive experience meeting with Santa. The library offers those families an alternative to long lines, bright lights, and noisy malls.”
Parents of children with sensory or other special needs can sign their children up to visit Santa for a 10-minute session. This gives the child time to get familiar with Santa and warm up to the idea of sitting on his lap or talking to him, rather than being rushed through the visit.
“When Santa visits the library, he’ll be using his best library behavior,” says Hampson. “Santa’s workshop will have dimmed lights, he and his elves will move slowly, and speak gently. Instead of waiting in line, families are welcome to bring snacks and we will provide a space for crafts and drawing until it’s time to see Santa.”
The Sensitive Santa event is free and all ages are welcome to participate. Parents are encouraged to bring their own cameras and may take as many photos as they like during their visit with Santa. Questions about the event, including reservations and requests for special accommodations, should be directed to the Hampton Park Library at (770) 781-9840 ext. 6709.
In addition to this event, Forsyth County Public Library will also host “Tis the Season for Stories” at each branch. This special storytime is a holiday tradition for the library and will include several Christmas stories, a puppet show, and merry music.
“Tis the Season for Stories” will be held:
- Cumming Library on Tuesday, December 16 at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.
- Sharon Forks Library on Wednesday, December 17 at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.
- Hampton Park Library on Friday, December 19 at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
- Post Road Library on Saturday, December 20 at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
No registration is required and all ages are welcome to attend.
For the second year in a row, the library will also host Polar Express events at each of the branches. The library will celebrate the beloved classic, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, and will enjoy themed treats and crafts. And who knows? Maybe a special visitor from The North Pole may drop by for a visit!
Polar Express Parties will be held:
- Sharon Forks Library on Monday, December 8 at 6:30 p.m. and Monday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m.
- Hampton Park Library on Tuesday, December 9 at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, December 16 at 6:30 p.m.
- Cumming Library on Thursday, December 18 at 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- Post Road Library on Monday, December 22 at 5:15 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Patrons are encouraged to register for one session by visiting the library’s website. The Polar Express Parties are sponsored by the FCPL Friends & Advocates.
For more information about these programs, please visit www.forsythpl.org.