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Jan Smith says certain noises can upset her son Caleb, so being able to skip long lines made the visit with Santa even more special.

"This event allowed us to really control some of those things, so we dimmed the lights, we had this event before the mall opened to keep the crowds down", said marketing director of CherryVale Mall Melissa Cavanagh.

Santa's team says making children of all ages smile is part of the magic of the season. The mall held a sensory-friendly holiday event on Sunday for families with special needs. "But we were waiting less than five minutes probably", said Grace.

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"His attitude and his reaction right now, the mood he's in is because of this, you know?" said Smith. So we're excited to start here and make it bigger and better next year.

"He doesn't like crowds", said parent Angie Flannery.

The program is a sensory-friendly opportunity for children with all spectrum's of special needs to get the Santa Photo Experience at the mall. We are just aware of all of those sensory overloads, so there is not that pressure of stand in the line, be quiet, and don't touch anything. "Or sometimes Luke will just absolutely shut down and it's like he's not there - it's just too much for him".

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Cavanagh adds most people don't realize how important it is for families to get these type of opportunities.

So in years to come, when families look back on their holiday photos, they can remember a good day with snacks, family and Santa.

In all, about thirty families were able to take pictures with Santa during Sunday's event.

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