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Sensory Friendly Santa Appeals To All Children

By Mark Taylor

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)- Nathan is 3-years-old and has a love for Thomas the Tank Engine. He also finds himself hilarious.

"He really is a sweet little boy who thinks he is the funniest thing in the world," said Nathan's mom Alisha Packer.

Nathan also has Autism spectrum disorder.

"He can't stand really bright lights, he can't stand loud noises, he will cover his ears it gets so intense for him," Packer said of her son's condition.

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Nathan and his sister with Sensory Friendly Santa (credit: CBS)

He is one of more than 100 children participating in the 3rd annual Sensory Friendly Santa event at Southland Shopping center in Aurora.

"One in 45 children is affected with an autism spectrum disorder," said Erica DeDufour with the Autism Society of Colorado.

Sensory Friendly Santa features low lighting and reduced noise, so that kids affected by autism can visit Santa.

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(credit: CBS)

"I've also trained Santa in autism 101, he has a better understanding of what autism is and how he can better interact," DeDufour added.

The Autism Society of Colorado puts on events like this to help families affected by autism participate in everyday events. Dedufour said some families tend to isolate because their child sometimes cannot conform to social norms.

As for Nathan, he was all smiles as he and sister Evelyn got their picture with Santa.

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Sensory Friendly Santa (credit: CBS)

"He was really happy to go over and give him high fives, it was a really great experience for him," Alisha Packer said.

Mark Taylor is a weekend morning anchor and reporter with CBS4 news covering a wide variety of stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkTaylor_TV.

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