Iowa nonprofit offers Sensory Santa experience for children with autism, ADHD

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:45 AM CST
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Treynor, Iowa. (WOWT) - Sensory Santa is putting some big smiles on the little faces of those too sensitive for a more traditional visit.

“There are no distractions and I can focus on people smiling,” said nine-year-old, Aidyn Mueller, who has autism and ADHD.

“The Sensory Santa it’s just such a relaxed environment. We have one family every 20 minutes and Santa just meets them where they are,” said Wendy Andersen, founder founder of Dexter’s Dream Foundation, a nonprofit inspired by her son with autism.

“We wanted to create life experiences for families to get out there and laugh with each other and just feel at home in a judgment-free zone, so that’s what we really try to do,” said Andersen, noting Sensory Santa welcome children who may otherwise be overwhelmed.

Ten-year-old Hayden Sewing has ADHD and said he’s happy about a new way of seeing Santa. “Normally I’m at school and it’s really loud and sometimes I get mad,” he said.

Santa, himself, also had some insights on the event, saying he knows a thing or two about being different.

“I dress funny, I step outside the boundaries all the time, but in a way people accept,” said Santa, noting he wants the children here to also feel accepted. “Certain experiences aren’t as inclusive and there’s no reason that the people who step across the boundaries should miss out on those experiences.”

As for Aidyn, he’s letting Santa know what he wants for Christmas and he’d like to let other kids know just one more thing.

“Love yourself for who you are.”

If you would like more information on Dexter’s Dream Foundation visit the nonprofit’s Facebook Page.

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