Sensory-friendly Santa event held for families

January 09, 2013
  • Back row, from left, Heather Harne, Matt Dittman (P.R.A.Y. founder and president), Becki De Lauter, Debi Kendall, Bob Pompell, Beth De Lauter (P.R.A.Y. vice president) and Trish Ieraci (P.R.A.Y. official). Middle row, Kenzi Slough, Carson De Lauter and Tyler Harne. Front row, daughter of Crowder, Laura Gross, Tanner Dixon, Kym Dixon, Angie Crowder and daughter of Crowder.
Submitted photo

The directors of Providing Relief for Autistic Youth Inc., or P.R.A.Y., held a sensory-friendly Santa party at Brook Lane North Village on Dec. 8 for eight area families.

The free event was held in a safe, sensory-friendly environment. Registration was chosen by lottery to fill the eight slots.

Many individuals with autism struggle with Sensory Processing Disorder. All the traditions of the season, including twinkling lights, large Christmas displays, loud music, large crowds and long lines can be overwhelming and cause a sensory overload or “melt down.”

Because of this, most special needs families have a difficult time going out to experience the simple joy of visiting Santa Claus.

At this event, each family enjoyed a private, appointed block of time to visit with Santa, have family photos taken, receive special family gifts, participate in crafts and activities and relax with refreshments.

The event would not have been possible without the support of Maryland AMVETS and the Martinsburg, W.Va., American Legion as sponsors, and partnership with Brook Lane for the location.

Volunteers from the staff from Brook Lane, Total Rehab, Dragonfly Dream Photography, P.R.A.Y. board members, and family and friends of P.R.A.Y. made the event possible.

For more information, go to, send an email to, or mail to P.R.A.Y. Inc., P.O. Box 275, Williamsport, MD 21795.

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