Santa gets sensory at Pacific Werribee

The Kiefel family visits Sensory Santa. Picture: Damjan Janevski

Having a photo with Santa can be tough when your little one isn’t in the mood to pose for a happy snap.

It can be even harder when your child has autism or other sensory challenges.

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 having to encounter 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.

Werribee parents Emily and Kris Kiefel first met the Sensory Santa at Pacific Werribee last year with nine-year-old son Jack.

“Being in a noisy shopping centre can be overwhelming for him,” Mrs Kiefel said. “The Sensory Santa experience has given Jack and our family the chance to meet Santa and spend some quality quiet time with him, one on one.

“It’s always so heartwarming to find a Santa who knows basic sign language. This is something we’ve experienced, visiting him at our local shopping centre for the last couple of years.

“As a parent of a child with special needs, it’s hard not to feel emotional when you see your child’s face light up meeting and communicating with Santa.”

Pacific Werribee will run the Sensory Santa sessions until December 18. For more information, contact centre management on 9749 5111.