For three-year-old Addasyn, meeting Santa has usually resulted in tears.
But this year, the little one, who has autism and global development delays, and her six-year-old sister Rubii were all smiles when visiting the big man in the red suit.
Pacific Werribee has been giving the families of special-needs children a helping hand this Christmas by offering a ‘Sensory Santa’ photo experience, where kids can get their Santa snaps before the centre opens without encountering the usual hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping.
The sensory experience gives children and their parents some special time with Santa in a low-stress environment.
Mum Kira Stemm said she was thrilled with the result. “Every other year, we’ve had trouble [with normal Santas] and felt rushed,” she said.
“This was our first time visiting Sensory Santa, a wonderful experience for my daughter Addasyn as it gave her the chance to experience Santa like all other children. She just needed a little more time to warm to him.
“The staff were aware of my children’s needs and took the time to make them feel comfortable – not hurry the session.”
Pacific Werribee centre manager Jonathan Codman added: “Everyone should be able to enjoy our magical Santa set, in their own time and own way.”
The Sensory Santa sessions continue until December 18. Details: 9749 5111