Sensitive Santa brings holiday cheer to children with sensory needs on Long Island

CUTCHOGUE, New York (WABC) -- Visiting Santa is at the top of everyone's list of things to do during the holidays, but for some families when it comes to seeing the big man in the red suit it's not always the easiest process.

Bright lights, loud noises, and crowded malls can be too much for children who live with autism spectrum disorders. However, at Santa's Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue, they are providing a safe space this year, so that everyone can get their moment with "Sensitive Santa".

"The holidays are more stressful than they are fun, so I just wanted to offer a safe place where families can come," said owner Stacey Soloviev. "If the children freak out it doesn't matter if they don't want to see Santa fine if it takes half an hour to see Santa that's fine too."

Soloviev wanted to provide this service at her farm because she has 11 children of her own, some on the autism spectrum. In the past, Soloviev stopped going to see Santa at malls with her children because almost every time she was asked to leave and felt embarrassed.

"It causes a lot of anxiety to go out into public or you know just do things that everybody else can just do," said Soloviev. "I've had soo many things said to me before and it's just hurtful, so this is a place where there are no judgments."

When families visit the farm, the music will be turned down and the lights will be softened to provide a comfortable environment for all children who struggle with sensory needs.

"For Sam, it's nice to have him included, it's nice to know that he can come here and he can be a part of Christmas too," said parent Tracey Ferguson. "I have four other kids and we've always done the chaos and this was just perfect for him because we usually feel left out."

Soloviev plans to add sensitive Santa permanently during the holidays, so that parents can have a stress-free visit while their children get that magical moment with Santa to remember for the rest of their lives.

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