TheraPlay hosting sensory-friendly Santa event this Saturday 

Imagine ABA and TheraPlay in Cullman are joining forces to host a sensory-friendly Santa event on Saturday Dec. 16, from 2-4 p.m. (TheraPlay/Facebook)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Photos with Santa are a trademark of the Holiday season, with bustling malls with bright fluorescent lighting, excited chatter and laughter all around and smells of nearby stores and vendors occasionally wafting through the space. For most people, that may be a nostalgic memory; for individuals with special needs and sensory issues, the bright lights and noise can be overwhelming.   

On Saturday, Dec. 16, from 2-4 p.m., TheraPlay, Cullman’s sensory-friendly pediatric therapy service, is partnering with Imagine Applied Behavior Analysis to bring a sensory-friendly Santa event to those who may have sensory overload in a traditional Santa photo setting.  

Administrative Director for Imagine Applied Behavior Analysis Callie Doss said she saw a need for a Christmas event that everyone could participate in safely. “We wanted to provide Cullman residents a safe way to meet Santa this year. A lot of our clients have sensory issues and elopement issues, both of which could be huge problems in a crowded mall or public outdoor setting. Parents can bring their children to a safe, dimly-lit and quiet place to meet Santa and have a picture,” said Doss, who explained on-hand staff at the event will be trained therapists and professionals. “It’s always good to have people that are trained in how to handle those situations or elopements on-hand at things like this.”  

Doss requests that interested families reserve a spot online to meet St. Nick, as overcrowding the office could create a new set of problems. More people in the office means more noise and more chance that a sensory overload could happen, derailing the entire afternoon’s plans.  

“We do have walk-in availability, but we ask that guests try to pre-register,” she said. “We will have one or two families at a time, so noise and interruptions are limited. We really want this to be enjoyable for everyone that participates.” 

In addition to meeting the man in red, guests will be able to write their Christmas wish lists, jotting down their hopes and wishes for gifts under their tree.  

Pre-register at or call TheraPlay at 256-841-5185. TheraPlay is located next to The Foundry Thrift Store at 1640 Second Ave. SW in Cullman.

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