For children with autism or sensory issues, going to busy shopping malls during the holiday season can be far too overwhelming to bear – even if it means missing out on seeing Santa Claus.
Luckily, this man in the red suit has undergone the exact same struggles, and he wants to make sure that other kids with special needs can still get in on the Christmas fun.
For the last three years, Kerry Magro has dressed up as Kris Kringle so he can host specially orchestrated meet-and-greet events for children with autism.
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While there are events like these nationwide, Magro – who also has autism – knows how to make a special connection with his young visitors.
The event is totally free for families to attend and it has all the essentials: the lights and music are turned down; the kids can be signed up for a 30-minute time slot so they don’t feel rushed; only 8 children are allowed per time slot; and of course, Magro is an expert at paying attention to their needs.
“Growing up with autism, I had challenges in meeting Santa in public places because I dealt with a lot of sensory challenges, so giant malls were never really an option for me,” he told HuffPost.
“We don’t want them to feel rushed. We don’t want them to feel overloaded. We just want to make it a labor of love.”
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29-year-old Magro is a motivational speaker and author who struggled with his autism and sensory issues during his younger years. As he got older and became more adjusted to his needs, he wanted to give back to other kids on the spectrum.
His nonprofit, KFM Making a Difference, gives away college scholarships to autistic students. Over the course of the last six years, the charity has awarded the scholarship to 50 different recipients.
If you want to catch his next workshop, Magro is hosting his special event on December 9th and 10th. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve a spot in advance.
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(Photos by KFM Making a Difference)